The Poisoned Waters of Chesapeake Bay

The Poisoned Waters of Chesapeake Bay

A view of Chesapeake Bay from above. Photo: <a href="">Crazy Diamond (flickr)</a>
A view of Chesapeake Bay from above. Photo: Crazy Diamond (flickr)

The Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound are so polluted that they should be "put in the intensive care unit," according to a recent Frontline episode.

Poisoned Waters reveals that immense amounts of pollution have affected the ecosystems of both estuaries in their most basic capacities. On the surface, Puget Sound and Chesapeake Bay may look pristine and beautiful — but underneath, the effects of toxic waters are visible and disturbing.

In Chesapeake Bay, the once-thriving oyster industry has practically disappeared, although the state government recently developed a plan to revitalize the oyster population. Frontline reports that the crab industry is headed towards the same fate. David Kirwar, a Chesapeake Bay crabber, says that he only catches about half of what he did 25 years ago, describing the situation as a "tragedy." Local journalist Tom Horton said that overall "you're talking about billions of dollars of economic impact with oysters, crabs, shad, striped bass; the decline in the fisheries have just been dramatic."

Frontline says pollution caused by urban sprawl, agriculture, animal farms, and industrial sites are just some of many factors that are "slowly eating away" the bay. Jay Manning, Director of Ecology for Washington State, tells Frontline, "It's about the way we all live. And unfortunately, we are all polluters. I am; you are; all of us are."

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