Habitat Conservation: The Chesapeake Bay

As America’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay is truly a national treasure. The Bay measures approximately 200 miles from north to south, has over 11k miles of shoreline and is fed by a watershed that includes over 150 rivers stemming from over 64,000 square miles of land in 6 states and the District of Columbia.

The future of the Chesapeake Bay is at risk: The health of the Bay is greatly impacted by those who simply live in the Mid-Atlantic region. As the population in the watershed grows, nutrient pollution and urban run-off clog the Bay’s waters with excess algae decreasing oxygen and creating large underwater zones that are devoid of life.

What Impacts the Health of the Bay?


see how oysters:

The Oyster

The foundation of all life in the Chesapeake Bay

Oysters are of the utmost importance to providing clean water, healthy fisheries, sustainable seafood, and ecological and economic health for Maryland. Unfortunately, the oyster population is a small percentage of what it once was. Decades of overharvest, outbreaks of diseases, and a loss of habitat to siltation and degradation have plagued the oyster resource.

Thankfully, oysters have seen recent improvements in their population, and many are focused on creating a bright future for oyster habitat in the Chesapeake Bay. As a “keystone” species, oysters grow their own homes, their shell, and build reef habitats that benefit the ecosystem as a whole.


Litter & Trash

Unsightly and toxic to aquatic plants, bottom-dwelling organisms and animals in the Chesapeake Bay.

While many citizens properly dispose of their trash and participate in recycling programs, many parts ot the Bay watershed have overwhelming amounts of litter and trash washed into them daily.  Trash is an unsightly mess and often breaks down into micro-particles and chemicals that are retained by the very seafood we eat.


Other Threats

Nitrogen laden emissions, failing sewage and septic systems, sediment and agricultural run-off coupled with an increase in population and impervious surface in the watershed all impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay in many different ways.

There's Still Time

We can work together to enhance our marine habitat and clean up the Bay. Artificial reefs and other local efforts are making a difference.

Artificial Reefs

Video Credit: Kent Island Scuba

What is a Reef Ball?

The world's most used artificial reef

Reefball Foundation Logo

Reef balls are a specially designed artificial reef unit that works great in a variety of marine and estuarine environments. They are a perfect design for creating three dimensional habitat, and a great place for underwater organisms to thrive. The Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations are important partners to all of the work that CCA Maryland does in the region.


Living Reef Action Campaign (LRAC)

CCA Maryland's flagship habitat, education and outreach program. Our mobile reef ball building trailer travels to schools, businesses and nonprofits and invites our community to roll their sleeves up, get dirty, and make a difference.

Reef Ball Partnerships

CCA Maryland’s habitat efforts are all built on strong partnerships and a shared commitment to enhancing our region’s public natural resources for the benefit of the general public. As a recreational angling based organization, CCA has always represented anglers of all backgrounds, ages, interests, and more. After all, clean water and healthy habitats go hand in hand with successful fishing trips while connecting us all through a love for the water.

Other Local Efforts


Ocean City Reef Foundation

A valued leader in building ocean habitat in the Ocean City, MD area. 

Making Progress

The map below shows some of the sites where CCA Maryland has deployed reef balls and the businesses, non-profits and schools who have partnered with us to build them.

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Get Involved

You can help create a safe & healthy Bay for generations to come

Support the Living Reef Action Campaign

Support our efforts to build artificial reef balls with students & the community

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