All the problems caused by agricultural run-off, sea level rise, erosion, and pollution are converging on this shallow body of water near Washington D.C., making it a complex living laboratory
The area's worst problem is excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus draining into the bay from the farmland in its massive watershed. The run-off encourages overgrowth of algae, which suck the oxygen out of the water and kill other wildlife such as crabs and oysters. Scientists come to the bay to study these effects, along with the disappearing shorelines and changing marsh ecosystems. Pictured here, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
pull oysters from the bay to check their health.