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Estuaries

Of all coastal areas, estuaries are arguably some of the most important due to the vital role they play in the life-cycles of many marine and terrestrial species. Estuaries are fairly easy to locate. They exist in almost every place where a river flows into the sea; where fresh water discharging from the land mixes with the salt water of the ocean. Although every estuary is unique based on its depth, breadth and water flow, they all contain this mixture of “brackish water.”

Slideshow: Estuaries

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    Estuaries provide a safe refuge for young fish prior to them migrating to the open sea.

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    Estuarine plants have adapted to brackish water so they can thrive where other plants might perish.

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    Skunk cabbage is a common estuarine plant and a major food source for many coastal animals.

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    Fertile mud flats are a nursery for all kinds of marine animals, particularly invertebrates.

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    Birds of all types are often attracted to estuaries by abundant habitat and food sources.

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    Estuaries are found all along the coast where rivers meet the Pacific Ocean.

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    Estuaries are popular with people too, both for recreation and foraging for food.