The Cause and Effect of the Chesapeake Bay's Oyster Decline on the Bay

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The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It holds 18 hundred trillion gallons of water. The Bay is about 200 miles long, and is home to more than 17 million people. The importance of the Chesapeake Bay is incredible; two of the United States’ five major North Atlantic ports – Baltimore and Hampton Roads – are on the Bay. (Chesapeake Bay Program, n/d). The Chesapeake Bay provides shelter and food to all living things in the surrounding area. Both, people and animals, use the Bays resources every day and have done so for centuries.
One of the Bays biggest resources is its oysters. Oysters are filter feeders which mean they feed on agley and clean the water. The oysters feed on agley and other pollutants in the bay
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William Strachey, wrote in 1612 that “Oysters there be in whole banks and beds, and those of the best. I have seen some thirteen inches long.” (Strachey 1953). The abundance of oysters is incredible,” wrote the Swiss nobleman Francis Louis Michel in 1701.(cbf, 2010).
People began to use and eat oysters around 4,500 years ago, shell deposits called middens were created as people harvested the Oysters. After people ate the oysters they would drop the middens in the same place they drop it in before, this continued repeatedly over the years creating huge piles of shells, this made ideal homes for the oysters. Oysters need a hard surface to live on and the middens were hard and durable, perfect for the oysters. At the White Oak Point site on the south shore of the Potomac near the Coan River, archaeologists found evidence that people had returned repeatedly to this same place to collect and eat oysters and other shellfish for over 3,000 years.(Miller n/d). For some time retrieving the Oysters proved challenging, so Europeans and natives only harvested the oysters around the shore in shallow water. Around the 1700s tongs became available and they made harvesting much easier. In the colonial time there were not enough people to make an impact on oyster stock, so the oyster population continued to grow. Scientist can check the effects of oyster harvesting by studying shells at sites from different time

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