Chesapeake Bay vs. Albemarle-Pamlico Sound
The Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound are the two largest estuaries in North America. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and spans 64,000 squares miles. This large body of water is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula and provides beautiful landscape that covers parts of Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, but mostly Maryland and Virginia. The watershed is made up of more than 150 rivers and streams and about 17 million people are in some type of contact with the watershed. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is the largest lagoon on the East Coast of the United States, but when discussing the network of lagoons that are interconnected to the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, it is the second largest estuary in the country spanning about 30,000 square miles. This interconnected network of lagoons is known as the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound and consists of the Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound, Croatan Sound, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Core Sound, and Roanoke Sound. This watershed is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, which is a row of islands that surround the outside of North Carolina. Being two of the largest estuaries in North America, the Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound have many similarities and differences in regards to their ecosystem, economic importance to their region, and their contributions to the local identity.
The Chesapeake Bay has an extremely diverse ecosystem with several kinds of habitats, including forest, rivers, the bay, itself, and different wetlands. This topical diversity means wildlife varies greatly. Since the Chesapeake Bay is a mixture of saltwater and freshwater, there are over 300 different species of fishes, and over 2,700 different plants. These different fish, plants, and other animals come and go seasonally. The freshwater comes from the streams and groundwater that run into the Bay, while the saltwater comes from the Atlantic Ocean. A crucial demand in the Chesapeake Bay would be the invertebrates, which are crabs and oysters. Since oysters help filter and clean the water and since there has been a decline in oysters, due to consumer demand, this has led to lower water qualities. This is all similar to that of the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound. Like all estuaries, they are rich in animal and plant life. The Albemarle-Pamlico is said to be dependent on its nursery habitat. However, issues with water quality are increasing. Because the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is located in North Carolina, it is connecting over 50 counties, which is causing issues with water quality. This is due to watersheds that eventually drain into the Sound. The water being drained from farmland, cities and towns can be harmful to the Sound because it may have pesticides, fertilizers, sewage, and even oil in it.
Studies have shown that as population continues to rise, the purchasing power of people will rise as well. This will create an increased demand for food and energy. Due to limited land resources in a specific location, as a solution, many nations will look towards the ocean to help fulfill their additional requirements. The Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound both have an important impact on the economy because they provide their area with seafood, transportation, tourism, and job opportunities. Specifically, the Chesapeake Bay’s seafood industry contributes about $3.39 billion in sales to the economy. These staggering numbers show that the Chesapeake Bay area is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Some of the most popular sea creatures that are fished and sold are the striped bass, oysters and the famous Maryland blue crab. Likewise, the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound’s seafood industry makes about 90% of North Carolina’s commercial fishing. In total, the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound makes about $100 million per year from local commercial fishing, crabbing, clamming, and oystering. Unlike the Chesapeake Bay, most of seafood caught in the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is shipped to metropolitan areas that are not close to bodies of water. This process contributes not only to the economy around the Sound but also other economies due to labor being record to transport the seafood.
The Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound also contribute to a vast number of routes for transportation and job opportunities. The Chesapeake Bay contains two of five major shipping ports on the Northern Atlantic coast. The Baltimore Harbor and the Hampton Roads Harbor are not only a route of transportation for businesses shipping cargo from port to port, it is also a route, in which, people can use for recreational travel. The Port of Baltimore is a commonly used port by many cruise lines that service the Northern Atlantic coast to transport people from Baltimore, Maryland through the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is quite similar in the ways, in which, its waterways are used. Since the most of the Sound’s seafood is exported, the Sound is used to transport cargo to port cities in the northern United States. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is also known for having ferries that transport people from mainland North Carolina to the Outer Banks. Additionally, the Sound has countless marinas that hold boats for people that love to cruise the water and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Both the Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound are very similar in the ways that the water is used for transportation.
A strong cultural identity is important to have in order to maintain the rich history, values, and traditions alive. The Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound, in one way or another influences each region’s cultural identity. Whether it supplies a family with fish and oysters for dinner or it is used for a family vacation, they both affect the people living around it. For the Pamlico County, the use of the Sound is not only used for tourism, which is what drives their economy, but is used for transportation, food supply, recreation, and water-related activities. These include crabbing, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing and more. Since the economy is tourism driven, it reflects and highlights the culture of that region. Events and activities are run from the Sound. Celebrations, festivals, concerts occur by the water as well. The Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is also very rich in history, so having tours through the region is helping keep history alive, showing pride in the region's cultural and historical background. Similar to the Chesapeake Bay, tourism is prevalent and history and culture is rich, however, it is mainly known for the seafood production. The Bay was said to be “dominated” by oysters, clams, fish, and crabs. These Bay products impacted the culture identity shaped around what was being produced by the Bay. Many places that use their natural resources as a way of living tend to shape their culture around it, not the opposite way around. Both bodies of water have influenced their regions’ history, their values and then their overall cultural identity. The Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound both have led for many surrounding areas to be able to develop a strong sense of identity.
In conclusion, the Chesapeake Bay and the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound are practically identical in the ways that they serve the communities surrounding them, but they also possess their own unique contributions. By taking a deeper look into the watersheds, it is evident that there can be initiatives taken to improve the quality of animal life and water health. With these improvements, the overall life of everything involved with the watersheds will raise the quality of life. The are many organizations that are striving to improve the water quality, enhance soil, fish and other wildlife health, as well as, manage the resources native to the areas to ensure that they will be sustained for the future. These organizations not only help increase the health of the ecosystem and the overall health of the water, but they also provide jobs for people in the surrounding area, which helps improve the economy.
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