Name / Description

Chesapeake Bay


Banks, Bays and Sounds



Length (miles)


Size (sq. miles)


Part of / Flows into



US (Virginia and Maryland)

Additional Notes

inlet of the Atlantic Ocean (3,237 sq miles), separating the Delmarva Peninsula from the mainland, E Maryland and E Virginia; c.200 miles long and 3 - 30 miles wide. Provides Virginia and Maryland with approximately 6000 miles of shoreline.[ 12,000 miles of shoreline if tidal riverfronts included.]

The bay is the drowned estuary of the Susquehanna River and is fed by many rivers including the Potomac, Rappahannock, York and James. Chesapeake Bay is entered from the Atlantic Ocean through a 12-mile wide gap bet. Capes Henry and Charles, Va. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel runs across the mouth of the bay. An important part of the Intracoastal Waterway, the bay is linked with the Delaware River. by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

The bay's uses for commercial fishing (oysters and crabs) and recreation have declined as area development grew. Projects in the 1980s, however, were undertaken to reverse this trend. The Eng. colonist John Smith explored and charted Chesapeake Bay in 1608.

Related Images

Date: 2005

Date: Drawn by John Smith (1612)

Date: 1627

NOAA # 12220

NOAA # 12273

Satellite image of Chesapeake Bay

Navigational chart of opening of Chesapeake Bay, by English cartographer Mark Tiddeman and published in The English Pilot

Related People

Smith, John

Related Vessels

Discovery (1607), Godspeed (1607), Susan Constant (1607)

Related Maps

Virginia (1670)

Related Events

1987 - National Estuary Program launched

Related Source

Tobacco Coast: The Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era (1953)
Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay (1976)
Fisher Folk: Two Communities on Chesapeake Bay (1986)
Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the 17th Century (2004)
John Smith's Chesapeake Bay, 1607-1609

Related Glossary


External Links

Chesapeake Bay: Introduction to an Ecosystem Virtual Jamestown Project.

Related Documents

The Chesapeake -- Coming Ashore (2008) UNLINKED