Delaware Bay is the estuary outlet of the Delaware River on the Northeast seaboard of the United States. Approximately 782 square miles (2,030 km2) in area, the bay's fresh water mixes for many miles with the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean.
The bay is bordered inland by the States of New Jersey and Delaware, and the Delaware Capes, Cape Henlopen and Cape May, on the Atlantic. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry crosses the Delaware Bay from Cape May, New Jersey, to Lewes, Delaware. Management of ports along the bay is the responsibility of the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
The shores of the bay are largely composed of salt marshes and mudflats, with only small communities inhabiting the shore of the lower bay. Besides the Delaware, it is fed by numerous smaller rivers and streams, including (from north to south) the Christina River, Appoquinimink River, Leipsic River, Smyrna River, St. Jones River, and Murderkill Rivers on the Delaware side, and the Salem River, Cohansey River, and Maurice Rivers on the New Jersey side. Several of the rivers hold protected status for their unique salt marsh wetlands bordering the bay, which serves as a breeding ground for many aquatic species, including horseshoe crabs. The bay is also a prime oystering ground.
The Delaware Bay was designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance on May 20, 1992. It was the first site classified in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
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