Environmental writer Tom Horton grew up near Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. As a child, he caught shad when they ran up the rivers from the Atlantic.

Chesapeake Bay coastline

HORTON: “They were a wonderful fish to catch and to eat.”

But overfishing and pollution took a toll. Many of the Bay’s seagrass habitats were destroyed, and in 1980, commercial shad fishing closed.

HORTON: “So I have two kids who have grown up never being able to catch a fish that was one of the joys of my springtime.”

Today, the Bay faces a new challenge: climate scientists predict that within 85 years, summertime temperatures in Chesapeake Bay could match those currently in south Florida. Horton says the warming waters pose a new threat to eelgrass – a particularly critical species.

HORTON: “. . . And it’s just some of the best habitat available for juvenile fishes and crabs and helps oxygenate the water. You know, you don’t want to lose them.”

Bay author points to troubling changes on the Chesapeake. Click To Tweet

Sea levels are also rising, and drowning wetlands before they can accumulate new sediment. So to help the bay adapt, some experts suggest keeping new construction away from the shoreline, to allow new wetlands to form as sea levels rise, and continue to provide critical habitat for juvenile fish, nesting turtles, and other species.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Chesapeake Bay coastline (copyright protected).

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