Part 1 – estuary ecology estuaries

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  • An estuary is the areas of water and shoreline where a freshwater stream or river merges with the ocean

  • Estuaries can be partially enclosed body of water (such as bays, lagoons, sounds or sloughs) where two different bodies of water meet and mix

  • They often bordered by salt marshes or intertidal mudflats

  • Salinity varies within the estuary from nearly fresh water to ocean water

  • It also varies daily in these areas due to rise and fall of tides

  • They are very productive due to nutrients brought in by rivers

  • A unique combination of salt and fresh water creates a variety of habitats in which the plants and animals survive in various brackish water combinations

  • Human activities are having a large impact on estuaries

    • Estuaries receive the pollutants dumped into the streams and rivers that feed them

    • Residential and commercial development not only adds to pollution but eliminates some estuaries due to land filling

  • Freshwater from rivers sometimes mixes with large freshwater bodies as the Great Lakes creating a "freshwater estuary" that functions like typical brackish estuaries

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