Delaware Bay
Overview
 
Delaware Bay is a major estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 outlet of the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 on the Northeast seaboard of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 whose fresh water mixes for many miles with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. It is 782 square miles (2,025.4 km²) in area. The bay is bordered by the State of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 and the State of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

. It was the first site classified in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network is a conservation strategy targeting shorebirds in the Americas launched in 1985. Its aim is to protect the nesting, breeding and staging habitats of migratory shorebirds...

.

The pair of Delaware Capes that denote the outermost boundary of the Bay with the Atlantic are Cape Henlopen
Cape Henlopen
Cape Henlopen is the southern cape of the Delaware Bay along the Atlantic coast of the United States. It lies in the state of Delaware, near the town of Lewes, Delaware...

 and Cape May
Cape May
Cape May is a peninsula and island ; the southern tip of the island is the southernmost point of the state of New Jersey, United States. It runs southwards from the New Jersey mainland, separating Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean...

.
Encyclopedia
Delaware Bay is a major estuary
Estuary
An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea....

 outlet of the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

 on the Northeast seaboard of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 whose fresh water mixes for many miles with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. It is 782 square miles (2,025.4 km²) in area. The bay is bordered by the State of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 and the State of Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

. It was the first site classified in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network is a conservation strategy targeting shorebirds in the Americas launched in 1985. Its aim is to protect the nesting, breeding and staging habitats of migratory shorebirds...

.

The pair of Delaware Capes that denote the outermost boundary of the Bay with the Atlantic are Cape Henlopen
Cape Henlopen
Cape Henlopen is the southern cape of the Delaware Bay along the Atlantic coast of the United States. It lies in the state of Delaware, near the town of Lewes, Delaware...

 and Cape May
Cape May
Cape May is a peninsula and island ; the southern tip of the island is the southernmost point of the state of New Jersey, United States. It runs southwards from the New Jersey mainland, separating Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean...

. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry
Cape May-Lewes Ferry
The Cape May – Lewes Ferry is a ferry system that traverses a 17-mile crossing of the Delaware Bay to connect Cape May, New Jersey with Lewes, Delaware. The ferry doubles as a section of U.S. Route 9.-The system:...

 crosses the Delaware Bay from Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in Cape May County, New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the country's oldest vacation resort destinations. It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States...

, to Lewes, Delaware
Lewes, Delaware
Lewes is an incorporated city in Sussex County, Delaware, USA, on the Delmarva Peninsula. According to the 2010 census, the population is 2,747, a decrease of 6.3% from 2000....

. Management of ports along the bay is the responsibility of the Delaware River and Bay Authority
Delaware River and Bay Authority
The Delaware River and Bay Authority or DRBA is a bi-state government agency of the U.S. states of New Jersey and Delaware established by interstate compact in 1961....

.

The shores of the bay are largely composed of salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

es and mud flats, with only small communities inhabiting the shore of the lower bay. Besides the Delaware, it is fed by numerous smaller streams. The rivers on the Delaware side include (from north to south): the Christina River
Christina River
The Christina River is a tributary of the Delaware River, approximately 35 miles long, in northern Delaware in the United States, also flowing through small areas of southeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Maryland. Near its mouth the river flows past downtown Wilmington, Delaware,...

, the Appoquinimink River
Appoquinimink River
The Appoquinimink River is a river flowing to Delaware Bay in northern Delaware in the United States. The river is long and drains an area of on the Atlantic Coastal Plain.The Appoquinimink flows for its entire length in southern New Castle County...

, the Leipsic River
Leipsic River
The Leipsic River is a river in central Delaware in the United States.It rises in northern Kent County, approximately northwest of Dover. It flows generally east, past Leipsic and entering Delaware Bay approximately northeast of Dover...

, the Smyrna River
Smyrna River
The Smyrna River is a river in central Delaware in the United States.It rises east of Smyrna, Delaware, at the confluence of Duck Creek and Mill Creek. It flows generally northeast, forming the boundary between Kent and New Castle counties. It enters Delaware Bay approximately northeast of...

, the St. Jones River
St. Jones River
The St. Jones River is a river flowing to Delaware Bay in central Delaware in the United States. It is long and drains an area of on the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The river is believed to have been named either for Robert Jones, an early European property owner in the region, or for "St. Jone",...

, and the Murderkill River
Murderkill River
The Murderkill River is a river flowing to Delaware Bay in central Delaware in the United States. It is approximately long and drains an area of on the Atlantic Coastal Plain.The Murderkill flows for its entire length in southern Kent County...

. Rivers on the New Jersey side include the Salem River
Salem River
The Salem River is a tributary of the Delaware River in southwestern New Jersey in the United States.The course and watershed of the Salem River are entirely within Salem County. The river rises in Upper Pittsgrove Township and flows initially westwardly, through Pilesgrove Township and the...

, Cohansey River, and the Maurice River
Maurice River
The Maurice River is a river that empties into the Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey in the United States.The Maurice River, pronounced "Morris", is approximately long and is the second longest and largest tributary to Delaware Bay. Its watershed includes an extensive southern portion of the...

. Several of the rivers hold protected status for the unique salt marsh wetlands along the shore of the bay. The bay serves as a breeding ground for many aquatic species, including horseshoe crab
Horseshoe crab
The Atlantic horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, is a marine chelicerate arthropod. Despite its name, it is more closely related to spiders, ticks, and scorpions than to crabs. Horseshoe crabs are most commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico and along the northern Atlantic coast of North America...

s. The bay is also a prime oyster
Oyster
The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve molluscs which live in marine or brackish habitats. The valves are highly calcified....

ing ground.

History

At the time of the arrival of the Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans in the 17th century, the area around the bay was inhabited by the Lenape
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

. The Indian name for the bay was Poutaxat. The river they called Lenape Wihittuck, which means "the rapid stream of the Lenape". The first recorded European visit to the bay was by Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson was an English sea explorer and navigator in the early 17th century. Hudson made two attempts on behalf of English merchants to find a prospective Northeast Passage to Cathay via a route above the Arctic Circle...

, who claimed it for the Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 in 1609. The dutch called the estuary Gogdijn's Bay (sometimes Godyn's Bay) after a director of the company, Samuel Godijn
Samuel Godin
Samuel Godin, Godyn or Godijn was a wealthy merchant, originally from Southern Netherlands, trading on Spain, Brazil and the Levant. He was one of the administrators of the Noordsche Compagnie, involved in whaling, and of the Dutch West India Company. From 1620 he traded on New Netherland...

. As part of the New Netherland
New Netherland
New Netherland, or Nieuw-Nederland in Dutch, was the 17th-century colonial province of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands on the East Coast of North America. The claimed territories were the lands from the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod...

 colony, the dutch established several settlements (the most famous being Zwaanendael) on the shores of the bay and explored its coast extensively. The thin nature of the corporate colony's presence in the bay and along what was called the South River (now the Delaware) made it possible for Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit
Peter Minuit, Pieter Minuit, Pierre Minuit or Peter Minnewit was a Walloon from Wesel, in present-day North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, then part of the Duchy of Cleves. He was the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherland from 1626 until 1633, and he founded the Swedish colony of...

, the former governor of New Netherland, to establish a competing Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 sponsored settlement, New Sweden
New Sweden
New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the Delaware River on the Mid-Atlantic coast of North America from 1638 to 1655. Fort Christina, now in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first settlement. New Sweden included parts of the present-day American states of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania....

 in 1638. The resulting dispute with the dutch colonial authorities in New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam
New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch colonial settlement that served as the capital of New Netherland. It later became New York City....

 (New York City) was settled when Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant
Peter Stuyvesant , served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664, after which it was renamed New York...

 led a dutch military force into the area in 1655. After the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 took title to the New Netherland colony in 1667 at the Treaty of Breda the bay came into their possession and was renamed with the river Delaware, after the first Governor of Virginia Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr
Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr
Thomas West, 3rd and 12th Baron De La Warr was the Englishman after whom the bay, the river, and, consequently, an American Indian people and U.S. state, all later called "Delaware", were named....

. The native American tribe living along the bay and river were later called the Delaware by the Europeans due to their location. The U.S. state also takes its name from the bay and the river.

Conflicting crown grants were made to the James, Duke of York
James II
James II may refer to:* James II, Count of La Marche , King Consort of Naples* James II , the second EP by Mancunian band James* James II of Aragon , King of Sicily...

 and William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

 on the west bank of the bay and river. Settlement grew rapidly, leading Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, upriver on the Delaware, to become the largest city in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 in the 18th century. In 1782 during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, Continental Navy
Continental Navy
The Continental Navy was the navy of the United States during the American Revolutionary War, and was formed in 1775. Through the efforts of the Continental Navy's patron, John Adams and vigorous Congressional support in the face of stiff opposition, the fleet cumulatively became relatively...

 Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Joshua Barney
Joshua Barney
Joshua Barney was a commodore in the United States Navy, born in Baltimore, Maryland, who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.-Revolutionary War:...

 fought with a British squadron within the bay. Barney's force of three sloop
Sloop-of-war
In the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, a sloop-of-war was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. As the rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above, this meant that the term sloop-of-war actually encompassed all the unrated combat vessels including the...

s defeated a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

, a sloop-of-war and a Loyalist
Loyalist
In general, a loyalist is someone who maintains loyalty to an established government, political party, or sovereign, especially during war or revolutionary change. In modern English usage, the most common application is to loyalty to the British Crown....

 privateer
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

.

The strategic importance of the bay was noticed by the Marquis de Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, who proposed the use of Pea Patch Island
Pea Patch Island
Pea Patch Island is a small island, approximately 1 mi long, in the U.S. state of Delaware, located in the mid channel of the Delaware River near its entrance into Delaware Bay. It is a low, marshy island, located in New Castle County, facing Delaware City on the Delaware shore, and Finns Point on...

 at the head of the bay for a defensive fortification to protect the important ports Philadelphia and New Castle, Delaware
New Castle, Delaware
New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351...

. Fort Delaware
Fort Delaware
Fort Delaware is a harbor defense facility, designed by Chief Engineer Joseph Gilbert Totten, and located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. During the American Civil War, the Union used Fort Delaware as a prison for Confederate prisoners of war, political prisoners, federal convicts, and...

 was later constructed on Pea Patch Island. During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 it was used as a Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 prison camp.
In 1855, the United States government systematically undertook the formation of a 26 ft (7.9 m) channel 600 ft (182.9 m) wide from Philadelphia to deep water in Delaware Bay. The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
The Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 is the oldest federal environmental law in the United States. The Act makes it a misdemeanor to discharge refuse matter of any kind into the navigable waters, or tributaries thereof, of the United States without a permit; this specific provision is...

 provided for a 30 feet (9.1 m) channel 600 feet (182.9 m) wide from Philadelphia to the deep water of the bay. The bay today is one of the most important navigational channels in the United States, and is the second busiest waterway in the United States after the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

. Its lower course forms part of the Intracoastal Waterway
Intracoastal Waterway
The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some lengths consist of natural inlets, salt-water rivers, bays, and sounds; others are artificial canals...

. The need for direct navigation around the two capes into the ocean is circumvented by the Cape May Canal
Cape May Canal
The Cape May Canal is a waterway that stretches nearly three miles from Cape May Harbor to the Delaware Bay, at the southern tip of Cape May County, New Jersey. The canal was constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers during World War II to provide a protected route to avoid German...

 and the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal
Lewes and Rehoboth Canal
The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal is a canal in Sussex County, Delaware. It connects the Broadkill River to Rehoboth Bay, and forms a portion of the Intracoastal Waterway.-External links:* - Southern terminus - Northern terminus...

 at the north and south capes respectively. The upper bay is also connected directly to the north end of Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is a 14-mile long, 450-foot wide and 40-foot deep ship canal that cuts across the states of Maryland and Delaware, in the United States. It connects the waters of the Delaware River with those of the Chesapeake Bay and the Port of Baltimore...

.
For boaters using the bay, the bay offers several challenges. First, there is a significant current of up to three knots which has the effect of giving a boost or slowing you. Second, the bay is for the most part shallow and the channel is often occupied with ocean-going vessels. When wind is in opposition to the current, it quickly builds a very nasty chop. Finally, it does not offer many places where you can take shelter.

Additional reading

  • Myers, Albert Cook, ed. Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, 1630 -1707. (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1912)
  • Ward, Christopher. Dutch and Swedes on the Delaware, 1609 – 1664 (University of Pennsylvania Press. 1930)
  • Leiby, A. C. The Early Dutch and Swedish Settlers of New Jersey (Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co. 1964)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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