What are the Characteristics of an Estuary Ecosystem

What are the characteristics of an estuary ecosystem?

An estuary ecosystem is a enclosed body of water where the freshwater from river meets with the ocean. This leads to the mixing fresh water and salt water which makes it rich in nutrients. Estuaries are home for several biological diversity. Estuaries may in various forms and sizes due to variance in rainfall, geology, basin shape and more. Estuaries can also be called as bay, lagoons, harbours and wetlands, and swamps. 

There are four types of estuaries formed in their own different ways, which are:

  •  i) coastal plain estuaries;
  •  ii) tectonic estuaries; 
  • iii) bar-built estuaries;
  • iv) fjord estuaries.

i) Coastal plain estuaries are formed by rising of sea levels which fill in the river valley. 

ii) Tectonic estuaries are created by the shifting together and rifting apart of the Earth’s crust, such as by an earthquake. 

iii) Bar-built estuaries form when lagoons or bay are protected by sandbars or barrier islands from the ocean. 

iv) Fjord estuaries are long, narrow, deep and steep valleys created by glaciers. Fjords are U-shaped. 

Characteristics of an Estuary Ecosystem 

The characteristics of an estuary ecosystem are: 

• An estuary is an enclosed coastal body of water that is a mixture of river and ocean water.

• It has an open connection to the sea.

• The union of land and ocean make estuaries the most unique ecosystem on the Earth. 

• Estuaries are the most productive areas as it has high concentration of mixed nutrients from both land and sea.

• Estuaries have fluctuating salinity ranging from 0 to 35ppt.

• Estuaries are home for a vast variety of wildlife. 

• There is high and low tidal influence.

• Temperatures vary in estuary due to mixture of different temperatures and its shallowness. 

• Estuaries are the most populated region on Earth. 

• Estuaries provide for tourism, jobs, recreation, and more. 

These are few of the significant characteristics of an estuary ecosystem. 

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