Lesson 507: Chesapeake Bay: Of Clams and Oysters

It is the largest bay on the Atlantic coast of the Americas, pivotal in the history of prehistoric, historic, and contemporary United States. Its tributaries drain a gigantic portion of the eastern U.S., including the Potomac River home to Washington, D.C. Its fisheries
Have been depleted, its oyster and clam industries much reduced, and rising seas threaten its shores. Still, hardy residents cherish the bay, and their efforts are restoring some of its ancient productivity.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the history of the Chesapeake Bay, its fisheries, industries, and threats to its shores.

Social Studies Standards

Production, Distribution, & Consumption: A, B

Discussion Prompts

  • What is lacking in the Chesapeake Bay? Justify your answer.
  • Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America. The bay is well known for its oysters, clams, and blue crabs. What other kind of marine life not mentioned would exist in this type of ecosystem? Explain your answer.
  • People are working to bring the Chesapeake Bay back to its original state. What are some of the things that would need to be done for that to happen and how might that impact the local economy? Why do you think that?
  • The host talked about the impact of climate change on the bay area. What would be the major concerns about the inevitable changes for the residents? Discuss some of the issues and possible preventive solutions.

Lesson Activities

  • Create a video to share with your friends about the process to be a producer of either oyster or clams at the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Create a 3D analogy that might help your classmates understand more about the three factors that are threatening the bay: nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment.
  • The pollution of the bay comes from a variety of different sources, according to the video. Select the top two pollutants and create an advertisement bringing awareness on their impact on the bay.
  • In the video, farmers rotated cotton with corn yielding more pounds per acre and strong corn production. Imagine that you know of a third crop to add to the rotation. Write a letter to a farmer letting him know about the new crop and asking if you could test your idea on his farm.


  • aquifer
  • balanced ecosystem
  • complexity
  • creek
  • enormity
  • estuary
  • farming
  • fisheries
  • producer


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 7