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From the Winter 2012 Conservationist for Kids

A boy on the deck of a boat holds a fish he just caught

What Are Marine Waters?

By Gina Jack

In addition to the Atlantic Ocean, our marine waters include estuaries where salt water mixes with fresh water coming from the land. New York's estuaries include the Hudson River, Upper and Lower New York Harbor, Long Island Sound, South Shore Estuary Reserve, Peconic Bay and numerous bays along the Long Island shoreline.

Marine waters include different habitats and support many kinds of wildlife. Marine habitats include areas near the shore, in the open ocean, at and near the water's surface, deep below, plus along the ocean floor.

ESTUARIES = Bays, harbors, coves, marshes, and river mouths where fresh and salt water mix. They are shallow and sheltered from ocean waves, making them ideal nursery habitat for the young of many different species of animals.

HABITAT = Home...a place where wildlife finds the food, water, shelter and space required for survival.

Phyto and zooplankton seen under the microscope
Plankton are microscopic, free-floating
aquatic animals (zooplankton) and plants

New York's marine waters are home to many kinds of animals and plants:

  • FISH (striped bass, flounder, sharks and sea horses)
  • CRUSTACEANS (crabs, lobsters, shrimp and barnacles)
  • MOLLUSKS (mussels, clams, scallops and squid)
  • REPTILES (sea turtles)
  • MAMMALS (whales, seals, and porpoises)
  • BIRDS (gulls, osprey, herons and ducks)
  • And many, many more.

SEAWATER contains about 3.5% salt. That's about four ounces of salt per gallon. Estuaries have less salt, since their waters are diluted by the incoming fresh water.

PLANKTON are microscopic free-floating aquatic animals (zooplankton) and plants (phytoplankton).