A bay is a smaller body of water extending off a larger one (usually an ocean or lake) and forming an indentation in the shoreline. Bays usually develop when the water level of a sea or lake rises above and submerges a portion of the shore. Virginia and Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay was created 10,000 years ago when the melting of Earth’s enormous glaciers caused the Atlantic Ocean to rise. When protected from the full brunt of the ocean’s pounding waves, bay waters become havens for marine life. In Ohio, Arkansas, and along the Mississippi River, a bay is a tract of prairie or open land partially surrounded by woods. A Carolina bay is a low, marshy area where bay trees (laurels) thrive. In Florida and other southern Atlantic states, a bay is synonymous with a slough, wetland, or watergrass meadow.

Donna Seaman