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National Estuarine
Research Reserves

Living Laboratories for Science, Education, and Protection

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of estuaries — places where freshwater from the land mixes with saltwater from the sea — established across the nation for long-term research, education, and coastal stewardship. The reserves are a partnership between NOAA and the coastal states and territories. NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management is responsible for administering the reserve system. Each reserve is managed on a day-to-day basis by a lead state agency or university, with input from local partners. The mission of the reserves is to practice and promote coastal and estuarine stewardship through innovative research and education, using a system of protected areas.