Chesapeake Wildlife

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Nuala Hastings

The Chesapeake is home to more than 3,000 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish, and roughly 30 species of waterfowl, along with local birds, such as the osprey. Discover some of the rich, extraordinary wildlife that make this place so special.

Some of the most iconic Bay species—and perhaps the most important to the region's recreation, economy, and way of life—include the blue crab, Eastern oyster, striped bass (also known as rockfish or striper), and Atlantic menhaden.

Discover more of the diverse and extraordinary wildlife that make this a place so special by browsing through our blog posts below, listening to our seasonal naturalist podcast, Chesapeake Almanac, or checking in on our Osprey Cam from late spring through early fall.

  • An Uncertain Nursery

    May 13, 2024

    The Chesapeake Bay is a famed spawning ground for Atlantic striped bass. But changeable—and changing—conditions are likely contributing to the species’ troubles.

  • Shaped by a Salamander

    April 23, 2024

    Five years after their triumphant campaign to crown the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania’s state amphibian, former CBF student leaders are taking on the world of conservation, education, and law.

  • Many Questions Remain for Blue Crab Outlook

    March 22, 2023

    The season for catching Chesapeake Bay blue crabs is already underway in Virginia, and recreational crabbing will officially kick off in Maryland on April 1. Several boats have been plying the waters the past several months, however, to pursue the crustaceans not for steaming but for science.

  • A Trout’s Journey: Behind the Scenes of Pennsylvania’s Fish Hatcheries

    March 16, 2023

    Getting 3.2 million hatchery-raised trout into waterways, as well as sustaining wild trout populations, is a critical part of the worldclass fishing for which Pennsylvania’s mountain streams are renowned. Both require good water, and lots of it.

  • Fisheries Win in Virginia’s Legislative Session

    March 9, 2023

    Last month, Virginia wrapped up its legislative session and with it came big wins for the Chesapeake Bay’s fisheries. Read more about the strides made to control blue catfish and protect oysters, blue crabs, and menhaden.

  • A Symbol for Pennsylvania

    May 16, 2022

    The largest salamanders in North America were plentiful in the Bay watershed decades ago. Today, with their populations teetering and habitat facing multiple threats, the Eastern hellbender is still as charismatic and ugly a critter as ever.

  • Five Facts You Didn’t Know About Beavers

    April 7, 2022

    These toothy, big-tailed creatures are some of the Chesapeake’s best Bay savers.

  • Forest Fish

    March 9, 2022

    CBF's Brian Gish has a plan to restore habitat for brook trout in Pennsylvania.

  • Resilient Return

    March 2, 2022

    Resurgence of Atlantic sturgeon in the Chesapeake Bay is reason to continue pollution-reduction efforts.

  • Charismatic Creatures

    January 26, 2022

    A Pennsylvania farm owner steps up to protect bog turtles on his land.

  • Miniature Marvels

    January 12, 2022

    Lined seahorses rely on the Bay's underwater grass beds for food, shelter, and a place to breed.

  • Winter Leviathan

    January 6, 2022

    Known for their acrobatics, humpback whales sometimes venture into the Chesapeake to feed.

  • Unexpected Visitor Spotted in C&O Canal in Montgomery County

    September 22, 2021

    The tropical Wood Stork is rarely seen in Maryland, but could have been blown north by Hurricane Ida.

  • Five Facts You Otter Know

    September 20, 2021

    While we love to see them, otter sightings can be rare depending on your location in the watershed. But when you do see them, here are five interesting facts you should know about the North American river otter.

  • Four Surprising Facts About Chesapeake Jellyfish

    August 17, 2021

    Admit it—it wouldn’t be a Chesapeake summer without sea nettles. From where to watch for nettles to treating their irritating stings, here are four things to know about jellyfish.

  • Freshwater Mussels: Wild, Wonderful, and Waning

    August 16, 2021

    Carolina Slabshells, Tidewater Muckets, Green Floaters—an amazing diversity of freshwater mussels call the rivers and streams of the Bay watershed home. But we’re losing species faster than we can understand them.

  • Sharks: From Miocene to Modern Day

    July 14, 2021

    We’ve all heard about sharks in the Bay, but did you know that these apex predators have actually been living here long before us humans ever showed up?

  • Herons in Harrisburg

    July 2, 2021

    Endangered Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are finding unexpected refuge in urban neighborhoods.

  • Are There Sharks in the Chesapeake Bay?

    August 11, 2020

    Swimming and boating are two of the best activities to beat the summer heat, but could sharks be lurking just below the surface?

  • Oysters: How Are They Doing?

    August 5, 2020

    Oysters are one of the watershed's favorite bivalves. But how are they doing?

  • Blue Crabs: How Are They Doing?

    August 3, 2020

    Blue crabs are known far and wide as a symbol of the Chesapeake Bay region. But how are they doing?

  • Sharks in the Bay?!

    August 14, 2018

    A shark catch in southern Maryland waters has launched a flurry of questions across the region. CBF's Doug Myers tells us what we need to know.

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