Estuaries are places like no other. Unique features include:
- Estuaries can make up an individual ecosystem. The Mississippi Delta estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico are different from estuaries in San Francisco Bay.
- Life is dynamic and diverse in estuaries. Some animals and plants specialize in, or adapt to, living in the unique conditions of estuaries.
- Because of the Earth’s changing geology, flowing water and different weather patterns help create many diverse types of estuarine habitats.
- Rivers provide nutrients, organic matter, and sediments to estuaries.
- Estuaries can filter small amounts of pollutants and runoff. Vegetation helps filter and trap silt.
- Estuaries act like huge sponges, buffering and protecting upland areas from crashing waves and preventing soil erosion.
- Estuaries provide a safe haven and protective nursery for small fish, shellfish, migrating birds, and coastal shore animals.
- People enjoy living near estuaries and the surrounding coastline. They sail, fish, hike, swim, and enjoy bird watching.