Chesapeake Bay: The Key Estuary Closest To My Home
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of salty water into which flow of river (or stream) can be observed. In other words, an estuary is a water body shaped by flow of freshwater (from rivers or streams) into the seawater (ocean). Out of 28 key estuaries that are mentioned in the EPA fact sheet, Chesapeake Bay is closest to my residence. It could be called as the greatest estuarine system present in United States because of its approximately 64,000 square miles watershed and around 1,500 square miles wetlands which serve as home for about 3,600 species (fish, shellfish etc.) (Affourtit, et al., 2001). Another important characteristic linked with this ecosystem is that it may filter and process residential, farming, and trade wastes and can also defend coastal regions against damage caused by storms and waves.
From abovementioned facts, the significance of Chesapeake Bay could be understood easily, but unfortunately this vital body is being damaged due to release of agricultural, domestic, and municipal wastes into it. In fact, as a consequence of liberation of waste substances, the quantity of Nitrogen (fig.1) as well as Phosphorus in this bay is getting increased continuously (Bianchi et al., 2000).
Since, both of these nutrients are needed for maintenance of aquatic biological yield hence, extreme growth of phytoplankton and algae can be observed into this bay because of elevated input of them. The adverse effect of such growth can be identified in light of the fact that it could block the sunlight which is essential for the development of submerged aquatic grasses. Such blockage of sun-light can eventually degrade the habitat through destruction of grass-beds. Besides in deeper regions, the decay of dead algae may lead towards the deficiency of oxygen due to which, bottom-dwelling creatures like oysters and worms that perform the role of energy-source for fishes and crabs could die. All above factors can unfavorably influence the estuary and may also put a question mark against its life-supporting ability.
As nutrients in this bay are introduced via point (involving municipal and industrial wastewater) as well as non-point sources (for instance, animal wastes) hence, level of such nutrients must be reduced in these sources with the help of appropriate tools and techniques such as, ban on phosphorus containing detergents, nutrient-management in agricultural fields, physical, chemical, and biological treatment of waste stuffs before discharging them into bay, up gradation of wastewater treatment plants, and control of airborne pollutants to reduce the atmospheric nitrogen accumulation etc (Guschin et al., 1997). Moreover, bay’s living reserves should also be restored through improvement of its water-quality. This goal can be achieved via the introduction of such species into the bay that may degrade the pollutants in an ecofriendly manner. In this way, the quantity of dissolved oxygen and clarity of water might also be improved which could further enhance the conditions helpful for the growth of immersed aquatic plants. These plants can further shape vital surroundings for other life-forms and thus, may contribute in revival of this bay. In addition to above, improvement in the regulatory scaffold can
also prove to be valuable for vitality of this eco-system as it may restrict the entry of pollutants from diverse artificial sources such as, industries.
Affourtit, J., Zehr, J. P., and Paerl. H. W. (2001). Distribution of nitrogen-fixing microorganisms along the Neuse River Estuary, North Carolina. Microb. Ecol. 41:114-123.
Bianchi, T. S., Engelhaupt, E., Westman, P., Andren, T., Rolff, C., and Elmgren. R. (2000). Cyanobacterial blooms in the Baltic Sea: natural or human-induced? Limnol. Oceanogr. 45:716- 726.
Guschin, D. Y., Mobarry, B. K., Proudnikov, D., Stahl, D. A., Rittmann, B. E., and Mirzabekov. A. D. (1997). Oligonucleotide microchips as genosensors for determinative and environmental studies in microbiology. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63:2397-2402.