eastern estuaries

Estuarine habitats are typically found where rivers meet the sea. Mouse over the image to see some of the estuarine areas highlighted in this tutorial. Click on image for more details and a larger image.

Estuaries are bodies of water and their surrounding coastal habitats typically found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries harbor unique plant and animal communities because their waters are brackish—a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater.

Estuaries are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animal species rely on estuaries for food and as places to nest and breed. Humans communities also rely on estuaries for food, recreation, and jobs.

Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries (Ross, 1995). Not surprisingly, human activities have led to a decline in the health of estuaries, making them one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth. NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), in partnership with coastal states, monitors the health of estuaries, educates the public about these ecosystems, and helps communities manage their coastal resources.

Logs are loaded onto a truck for transporting to a milling plant in Superior National Forest in Minnesota

Estuaries are both beautiful and ecologically bountiful. Their natural expanses provide habitats for a wide range of animal and plant species. Click on image for more details and a larger image. (Photo: Old Woman Creek NEERS site)

iron contamination is apparent in the Idaho Blackbird Creek, Lemhi County, Idaho

New York City, with a population of over eight million people, is one example of a major urban area located on an estuary. Click on image for more details and a larger image. (Photo: Stanne/NYSDEC)

Estuaries Tutorial is an overview of estuarine habitats, the threats facing them, and efforts to monitor and protect estuaries nationwide.

The Roadmap to Resources complements the information in the tutorial by directing you to specific online estuary-related materials from NOAA and other reliable resources.

Scilinks Logo

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has included this online resource in its SciLinks database.
SciLinks provide students and teachers access to Web-based, educationally appropriate science content that has been formally evaluated by master teachers.

For more information about the SciLinks evaluation criteria, click here:

To go directly to the SciLinks log-on page, click here:


footer art