Estuary Management Programs
An estuary is a place where salty water from the ocean mixes with fresh water from the land and creates a unique and special place for marine species to live, feed, and reproduce. Estuaries are transitional areas where the ocean tides bring in nutrients and animals, while freshwater runoff reduces the stress caused by saltwater and carries even more nutrients. Often, estuaries have a restriction across the mouth, like a barrier beach or sand bar which offers protection from the full force of ocean waves and storms. Estuaries are a critical part of the life cycle of many different species. They are the spawning and nursery area for thousands of animals who seek out the quieter waters of estuaries to provide a protected nursery for their offspring. Estuaries also provide a food rich resting area for migrating waterfowl like black ducks, harlequin ducks, scoters, and scaup. Wading birds like the great blue heron, great egret, and glossy ibis, and snowy egret nest in colonies on islands found in New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and Gardiners Bay. Raptors like osprey and northern harriers also nest and feed throughout the marine district of New York.
New York's Marine District has several estuaries which are managed cooperatively by DEC with other state, local, and federal government agencies, the scientific community, and direct input from private citizens. They include:
- The Peconic Estuary
- Long Island South Shore Estuary
- New York/New Jersey Harbor
- Long Island Sound
- Hudson River Estuary