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Estuarine Freshwater



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Marine Ecology Lecture: Estuaries

The sponge-like quality of the wetlands surrounding the estuary waters helps to absorb incoming floodwaters and storm surge, and the emergent plants and submerged aquatic vegetation of the estuary filter out sediment, excess nutrients, and pollution from the waters before they flow out to the ocean. The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in northeast Florida is home to three different estuaries: the Tolomato and Guana River estuaries in the northern section, and the Matanzas River estuary in the southern portion. Together, these estuaries and their surrounding lands contain pinelands, salt marsh, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, and the northernmost extent of mangrove habitat on the East Coast.

As these different types of habitat contain both tropical and subtropical plants and animals, this reserve is a key area for scientists to study how these populations will react to the impacts of climate change. This area is an important place to rest and feed for migrating populations such as shorebirds and calving North Atlantic right whales, and other wildlife like manatees, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons can be found here all year long. The public lands below are all part of the reserve—check them out to plan your visit! Sources : D. Ponte Vedra, FL. The Great Bay estuary is unusual, and can even be a little hard to find.

Instead, this estuary is fed salt water that travels from the Gulf of Maine 15 miles inland through the Piscataqua River, where it then mixes in Great Bay with fresh water from the Salmon Falls, Cocheco, Bellamy, Oyster, Lamprey, Squamscott, and Winnicut rivers. Formed by sea level rise at the end of the last ice age 14, years ago, the estuary and its surrounding lands today contain mudflats, salt marshes, swamps, ponds, eelgrass beds, oyster habitat, and more, offering food, shelter, and breeding ground to fish, birds, mammals, and invertebrates alike. Located on the Atlantic Flyway, Great Bay hosts the largest wintering population of bald eagles in New England, and the largest concentration of black ducks in the state.

Come visit the estuary! Bring some sunscreen, a water bottle and a sense of adventure! The Grand Bay estuary, straddling the state line between Mississippi and Alabama, is a major estuarine system contributing to the Gulf of Mexico. This estuary is a study in extremes, both on land and in water. Low freshwater input to the Bay means that this estuary is one of the saltiest on the Mississippi coast, making it unsuitable for some species while allowing others to flourish. Frequently burned wet pine savannas are often home to specialized plants, such as orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants—at least four different kinds of carnivorous plants can be found in Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge alone.

There are many great ways to get out and enjoy recreating on the estuary:. Waggy and M. Woodrey editors. This stark contrast is due to the difference in tectonic activity on the two coasts; craggy cliffs formed by uplift and mountain-building in the west versus relative calm in the east, where the land slopes gently into the ocean. Found about 20 miles north of Monterey, this water body and its surrounding lands offer a wide variety of habitat including mudflats, eelgrass beds, salt marsh, coastal dunes, open beaches, grasslands, and woodlands.

Together, this ecosystem supports more than 50 species of terrestrial mammals and hundreds of species of fish both recreationally and commercially important, but it is best known for its bird population. A critical habitat for resident and migratory bird populations, Elkhorn Slough is one of the few remaining saltwater wetlands on the Pacific Flyway, offering respite to tens of thousands of birds, including rare and endangered species. The slough and the lands surrounding it are managed by several different organizations, offering different opportunities to learn about and interact with the estuary.

This bay system can be broken up into four parts: East Bay, St. Vincent Sound, St. George Sound, and Apalachicola Bay. Guarded by a chain of barrier islands, this square-mile estuary receives water from stream systems that reach beyond state borders into Alabama and Georgia. As a velocity difference develops between the two layers, shear forces generate internal waves at the interface, mixing the seawater upward with the freshwater.

As tidal forcing increases, the control of river flow on the pattern of circulation in the estuary becomes less dominating. Turbulent mixing induced by the current creates a moderately stratified condition. Turbulent eddies mix the water column, creating a mass transfer of freshwater and seawater in both directions across the density boundary. Therefore, the interface separating the upper and lower water masses is replaced with a water column with a gradual increase in salinity from surface to bottom.

A two layered flow still exists however, with the maximum salinity gradient at mid depth. Partially stratified estuaries are typically shallow and wide, with a greater width to depth ratio than salt wedge estuaries. In these estuaries, tidal flow is greater relative to river discharge, resulting in a well mixed water column and the disappearance of the vertical salinity gradient. The freshwater-seawater boundary is eliminated due to the intense turbulent mixing and eddy effects. The width to depth ratio of vertically homogeneous estuaries is large, with the limited depth creating enough vertical shearing on the seafloor to mix the water column completely.

If tidal currents at the mouth of an estuary are strong enough to create turbulent mixing, vertically homogeneous conditions often develop. Fjords are examples of highly stratified estuaries; they are basins with sills and have freshwater inflow that greatly exceeds evaporation. Oceanic water is imported in an intermediate layer and mixes with the freshwater. The resulting brackish water is then exported into the surface layer. A slow import of seawater may flow over the sill and sink to the bottom of the fjord deep layer , where the water remains stagnant until flushed by an occasional storm.

Inverse estuaries occur in dry climates where evaporation greatly exceeds the inflow of freshwater. A salinity maximum zone is formed, and both riverine and oceanic water flow close to the surface towards this zone. The maximum salinity can reach extremely high values and the residence time can be several months. In these systems, the salinity maximum zone acts like a plug, inhibiting the mixing of estuarine and oceanic waters so that freshwater does not reach the ocean.

The high salinity water sinks seaward and exits the estuary. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Ridd, P. Archived from the original PDF on Island Press. Coastal Fluxes in the Anthropocene. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. JSTOR Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. December Treat ed. Technical Report No. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. River Research and Applications. Categories : Aquatic ecology Rivers. Hidden categories: CS1: long volume value Articles with short description Short description matches Wikidata. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file. Download as PDF Printable version. Add links.

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