A microscopic view of calanoid copepods, a type of zooplankton, in a water sample from Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Oysters and other filter feeders consume algae in the water column, clearing the water so light can reach underwater grasses below. Jellyfish feast on ctenophores (comb jellies) — an important role since comb jellies prey on fish larvae, like those of the bay anchovy that drift through the Bay’s open (pelagic) waters. The bay anchovy, in turn, feeds fish higher up the food chain, like striped bass (rockfish).
Interactive Food Web
Based on a scientific model by Dr. Robert Ulanowicz and Dr. Daniel Baird, our interactive food web explores the interconnections of important species in the mid-Chesapeake Bay. The food web begins with tiny photosynthetic cells that capture carbon using energy from sunlight to create life-sustaining sugars. It ends with top level carnivorous fish. In this model we follow how energy from carbon flows through the food web by way of what eats what.
Click on the Food Web Levels below to learn about 36 major species of the mid-Chesapeake Bay. See how they comprise the lower, middle, and top levels of the food web and mouse over their names to learn about their role in the Bay.
Then click on the Energy Network to explore the flow of energy through the mid-Chesapeake’s food web. Roll your mouse over the orange polygons (striped bass, blue crabs, or oysters) to highlight who eats whom. Trace the red lines and arrows connecting other species to see who they eat and who eats them.
Food Web Levels