Sarasota County Water Atlas

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Bays and Estuaries

What does this mean?

Estuaries are semi-enclosed bodies of water that are formed when fresh water from rivers and coastal streams flows into and mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries and the lands that surround them are places of transition from fresh to salt water and where the land meets the sea. In Sarasota, estuaries are often named as bays, bayous, harbors or inlets.

Estuaries support unique communities of plants and animals that have adapted to life at the border of the sea. Estuarine environments are among the most productive habitats on earth, fostering an abundance of diversity in wildlife. Shore birds, fish, marine mammals, shellfish, reptiles, sea birds, and marine worms are a few of the animals that can be found in our estuaries. Many finfish and shellfish species depend on estuarine habitats as primary habitat or as spawning and nursery grounds.

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