- An estuary is a body of water partly surrounded by land where fresh water from rivers and streams runs into and mixes with salt water from the ocean. Estuary is another name for bay, sound, inlet, harbor, lagoon – what's important is the mixing of fresh and salt water.
- Estuaries are among the most productive natural systems on earth due to the mixing of nutrients from land and sea, producing more food per acre than the richest Midwestern farmland.
- There are 102 estuaries in the U.S according to the EPA. Of these, 28 have been designated by their states and the federal government to be of national importance.
- Our coastal regions today are the home for 110 million people – a number that is expected to increase to 127 million by the year 2010.
- People love estuaries for their beauty and for fishing, swimming, boating, diving, wildlife viewing, hunting, learning, and working. In 1993, over 180 million Americans visited estuaries – about 70 percent of the entire U.S. population.
- Estuaries have many different types of habitats, vital to many important species of plants, fish, and other wildlife. Habitat – one could also say "home" – includes shellfish beds, sea grass meadows, salt and fresh marshes, forested wetlands, beaches, river deltas, and rocky shores.
- Estuaries and coastal waters provide essential habitat for over 75 percent of the commercial fish catch and 80-90% of the recreational catch of fish.
- Fishing, tourism and recreational boating – which depend on healthy and productive estuaries – provide more than 28 million jobs for our nation. Commercial and sport fishing alone contribute $111 billion yearly to the nation's economy.
- There's a lot we don't know yet about estuaries, like exactly how many acres of estuary habitats have been and continue to be destroyed. We do know that the level of habitat loss in some of our nation's most important estuaries is approaching 80 to 95 percent.
- We can save estuaries and their habitats! Join us in working to help turn the tide through a national commitment to restoring one million acres of estuary habitat by 2010 and bringing one of our nation's great national treasures – its estuaries – back to health.