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Bay Terms
  • Adaptation - any change in a species, which allows the species to survive and reproduce in its particular environment.
  • Anadromous - a fish born in fresh water that lives its adult life in salt water and returns to fresh water to spawn annually (striped bass, shad, and herring).
  • Benthos - the bottom of a body of water and the associated organisms that live there.
  • Biodegradation - is the chemical breakdown of materials by the environment.
  • Brackish - a mixture of fresh and salt water.
  • Catadromous - a fish born in salt water that lives its adult life in fresh water and returns to salt water to spawn annually. (American eel)
  • Commerce - the buying and selling of goods involving transportation from place to place.
  • Containerization - the method of shipping large amounts of material in large, uniform sized box, or "container", such as the boxes seen on freight trains and semi-trailer trucks.
  • Dissolved Oxygen - (D.O.) - oxygen dissolved into the water through turbulence, photosynthesis, diffusion, etc. This is then available to organisms for respiration. D.O. is measured in parts per million (ppm).
  • Ecology - the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment. The environment of an organism includes non-living things, such as air and water, and also other organisms.
  • Economics - the business of dealing with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.
  • Ecosystem - an environment of living and non-living things that interact and connect. An ecosystem may be as small as a drop of water or as large as the earth.
  • Erosion - action by which water, wind, or gravity carry away soil and earth particles.
  • Estuary - a semi-enclosed coastal body of water where fresh and salt water mix.
  • Euryhaline - an organism that tolerates a wide range of salinity.
  • Eutrophication - over-enrichment of the Bay due to excessive nutrients (i.e. nitrates and phosphates) entering the water. This leads to algae blooms that suffocate submerged aquatic vegetation.
  • Fall line - the dividing line between the Piedmont (uplands/plateau) and Coastal Plain. The fall line is usually where a river flows very fast, dropping elevation quickly. Up-river navigation ends at this point.
  • Food Chain - the transfer of energy in an ecosystem where organisms survive by feeding on other organisms. A progression beginning with photosynthesis (sunlight) in plants - which are then consumed by animals that are in turn consumed by other living things.
  • Habitat - environment, place where a plant or animal usually lives.
  • Non Point Source Pollution - the non-specific, unidentifiable source of wastes and pollutants. Watershed runoff, storm drains, and air pollution are three examples for the Bay.
  • Nutrients - chemicals required for growth such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
  • pH - the measure of hydrogen ion activity present in a water sample. pH is measured on a scale of l-l4 with 7 as neutral, 1-6 being acidic and 8-l4 progressively basic (alkaline). The pH level is a critical factor in determining a body of water's suitability to sustain life.
  • Plankton - small organisms that move with the currents. They can be plants (phytoplankton) or animals (zooplankton). They are the foundation of the food chain.
  • Point Source of Pollution - a specific, identifiable place of discharge.
  • Pollutant - a substance which has adverse effects on the environment, including chemicals, oil, and other contaminants.
  • Port - a city with a harbor usually associated with imports and exports. (Also refers to the left side of a boat when facing the bow.)
  • Rural - relating to the country or farmland.
  • SAV (Submerged Aquatic Vegetation) - plants that grow underwater.
  • Salinity - the measure of the amount of dissolved salt in water. Salinity is measured in "parts per thousand".
  • Salt marsh - flat marshy land that is subject to occasional flooding of salty water; contains water that ranges from brackish to strongly saline; supports a wide variety of plants and animals.
  • Sediment - matter deposited by water or wind - i.e. sand, silt, and mud.
  • Susquehanna River Valley - During the ice age the Susquehanna River flowed to the Atlantic Ocean slowly forming a large valley due to erosion. When the glaciers melted, the sea level rose (410 feet in 6,000 years) to fill this lower valley with the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Tide – the periodic rise and fall of water resulting from the gravitational attraction of the moon and sun. In a 24-hour period, there are two high tides and two low tides in this region.
  • Toxic Waste - a poisonous by-product of industrial, agricultural, or domestic wastes.
  • Tributary - a stream or river feeding into a larger body of water.
  • Turbidity - cloudiness of the water due to runoff, sewage, rough seas, etc.
  • Urban - relating to a city.
  • Variable - something that can change.
  • Watershed - all of the land that drains into a specific body of water.
  • Weathering - breakdown of earth's surface by natural forces (water, wind, and temperature).

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