An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where freshwater streams and rivers meet and mix with the saltwater of the ocean. Every estuary is unique, they are areas of transition between the land and the sea.
Delaware Bay is an exceptional estuary of unique resources. This rich estuarine ecosystem is a critical component of the economic well being of the region, supporting industry, fishing, transportation, natural resources, and recreation and is home to millions of people.
The transition from land to sea, and from fresh to salt water, creates one of the most productive habitats on earth. Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world, and is an integral link in the migratory path of numerous species of birds, including shorebirds and waterfowl. The bay provides vital spawning, nursery, and feeding grounds for fish, shellfish, and marine mammals. It is a natural draw for outdoor recreation including kayaking, fishing, hunting, and bird watching.
The salt marshes around the bay filter pollutants and sediments from the land and acts as a buffer that provides protection from flooding and erosion. Delaware Bay supports a diverse natural environment, as well as a vital industrial base and contributes significantly to the economic, recreational, and cultural resources of the region.
In addition to its natural beauty and habitat value, Delaware Bay maintains and supports the world's largest freshwater port, the second largest refining-petrochemical center in the nation, and one of the world's greatest concentrations of heavy industry. These diverse uses require a delicate balance.
The bay is bordered by the State of New Jersey and the State of Delaware. The shores of the bay are largely composed of thousands of acres of salt marshes and mud flats, with only small residential communities inhabiting the shore of the lower bay. Besides the Delaware River, the Bay is fed by numerous smaller streams. Some of the rivers on the Delaware side include: the Christina River, the Appoquinimink River, the Leipsic River, the Smyrna River, the St. Jones River, the Murderkill River, the Mispillion River and the Broadkill River. Some of the rivers on the New Jersey side include the Salem River, Cohansey River, and the Maurice River.
Source of Bay Facts:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - www.noaa.gov
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - www.epa.gov
Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control - www.dnrec.delaware.gov
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary - www.delawareestuary.org
The Nature Conservancy - www.nature.org
Wikipedia - www.wikipedia.org