Published: June 2005
Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

Pirate Waters

In the 1600s, as settlements grew near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, pirates also started seeking refuge along the bay's secluded shores.

The infamous pirate Blackbeard arrived from the high seas in the 1700s, his long black beard braided and tied with black ribbons. Known for lighting long-burning fuses under his hat to intimidate his enemies, Blackbeard captured a sloop off Cape Charles, Virginia, in 1717. He readied his ships in the bay's calm waters before sailing out to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to capture more treasure.

Another pirate, Theophilus Turner, also sought fortune in the Chesapeake. After leaving Captain Kidd's ship in Delaware, Turner boarded a sloop headed for the bay. He hoped to settle in the Tidewater area with his treasure. But while his ship was anchored in the Severn River, a Maryland official boarded the boat and arrested Turner, who was then sent to England for trial.

—Christy Ullrich

Cosmic Impact

Deep beneath the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay lies a giant impact crater, almost half the size of the crater at the northern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula that is tied to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This 35-million-year-old scar, formed by a speeding meteorite, measures 50 miles (80 kilometers) across and a mile deep. Predating the formation of the Chesapeake Bay, the crater is now buried beneath hundreds of feet of younger rock.

When the meteorite struck, the site was covered by much higher ocean waters—waters so high that they almost reached the base of the Appalachian Mountains. Some experts suspect that the impact may be responsible for small glassy droplets called tektites that were scattered across the southeastern part of the continent around the same time. Centered near present-day Cape Charles, Virginia, the crater may have played a role in the formation of the bay millions of years after the cosmic collision.

—Brad Scriber