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Fish and Shellfish Introduction
As the sun rises and its coppery reflection shimmers on Chesapeake Bay, Virginia's "watermen" (commercial fishermen) are already on their job of landing 500 million pounds of seafood a year. Soon they will point their skipjacks (historic bay sailboats) and oyster boats toward the marshy shores and beckoning sea grasses to deposit their catch.
What's for dinner tonight? Take your pick from almost 300 species: Saltwater fish and shellfish or freshwater fish. Saltwater mixes into the Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Freshwater flows from the Bay's 48 major rivers and 100 small tributaries. Thus the Bay can support both fresh and marine life forms, plus those that can tolerate fluctuating salt levels.
The great Chesapeake Bay dominates coastal Virginia. Its marshlands offer shelter for millions of migrating waterfowl; its tides nurse the state's network of creeks and rivers. Broad sloughs, coves, wetlands, and tidal ponds intermingle and embrace three lush, green "necks" (peninsulas) cut out by the long, wide mouths of the Potomac, Rappahannock, York and James Rivers.