What is an estuary? And is there one in the Everglades?
Estuaries are constantly in the news in our area and there’s so much time devoted to discussing them and their protection, but many do not know exactly what an estuary is. An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of water, normally brackish with a river flowing into it. It must have a free flow out to a large body of water such as an ocean or sea.
The Everglades has one of the largest estuaries in the United States in the Florida Bay. A critical element of understanding the Everglades is that there is no river per se, there is a flow of water towards the South, which is called the River of Grass, because it is water in constant movement through the Glades to the Florida Straits into the Florida Bay.
The estuary is composed of mangrove forests and behind them lie the marshes. This is a fascinating diverse world for wildlife!
Snook, redfish, seatrout, tarpon, bonefish are the major fish species that abound here. Birds are represented with the roseate spoonbills, egrets, great white herons, bald eagles, seagulls, pelicans, ospreys and cormorants. This makes for really fun bird watching as these are some of the most beautiful birds on earth and they can all be found in this one area, our backyard!. This protected land is host to many other animals including raccoons, opossums, bobcats and squirrels.
It is vital to the Everglades ecosystem that we keep our estuaries healthy and thriving, as so much life begins in and around the estuary environment. Without environments like the estuaries in and around the everglades, our animal populations would decrease and the everglades would cease to exist in as it does today.