: News

Chesapeake Bay: Better, Not Good.

Play associated audio

By Sabri Ben-Achour

The Chesapeake Bay is showing some encouraging signs according to an annual survey, but pollution remains a serious problem.

At the Annapolis pier, elementary school students on a field trip take turns holding some of the lifeforms that inhabit the bay.

"That's a feather blenny fish," says one child. "It lives on an oyster reef."

If these creatures survive the students, life may be looking up, according to an annual survey of bay health.

"I think there are two key bright spots--one is in the increase in underwater grasses," says Richard Batuik, associate director of science for the Chesapeake Bay Program.

A host of animals need grasses for shelter. Scientists credit improvements in waste water treatment. And the other is crabs.

"Our scientists have also measured the highest number of adult blue crabs out there since 1993," says Batuik. Batuik says this reflects curbs on crabbing since the population almost collapsed just a few years ago.

But better isn’t the same as good.

Oyster populations are at 1 percent of their historic levels. Only 12 percent of the Bay has enough oxygen. And a lot of the improvements in water quality is due to the weather. We've had less rain in the past few years, so a little less pollution happened to wash into the bay.

"There's still too much Nitrogen, Phosphorus and sediment pollution going into the bay," says Batuik.

And a lot of it is coming from urban areas, according to Batuik.

"People have to think twice about fertilizing their lawn, we have to get farmers to use more conservation practices, and we've got sewage treatment plants we need to continue to upgrade," he says.

Back at the pier, the elementary students are making their own efforts to save the creatures of the bay.

"Make sure it gets some water so it doesn't die," says one child.

If only it were as easy, say environmentalists, for the rest of the bay.

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Thanksgiving Buzz: What Would Pilgrims Say About The Plight Of Bees?

When you sit down for your holiday dinner, you may want to give thanks to bees and other pollinators. Their health is tied to your food. What's behind the bee declines? Watch our video investigation.

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Find Living At The Office Makes Sense, Saves Cents

Three office buildings on the House side of the U.S. Capitol serve as offices, and by night as lawmakers' apartments. Dozens of lawmakers choose to sleep in the office when Congress is in session.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.