Upper Newport Bay is the largest of only a few remaining natural estuaries in southern California. An estuary is a place where freshwater from inland sources mixes with ocean water. In an estuary, fertile soil washed down from the watershed is deposited, creating mudflat that is soon teeming with worms, clams and other animals. The water is rich in algae and plankton that is easily consumed by the clams and other marine invertebrates hiding in the mud. This abundance of food makes the Bay an important habitat for many fish.