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Estuaries are known by many different names: bays, coves, inlets, harbors, sounds, and lagoons. Simply put, they are places where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are, however, far more complex than merely areas where seawater is mixed with fresh. They are also ecotones, places where different ecosystems meet and boundaries overlap: terrestrial and aquatic, freshwater and marine, inland and offshore. They are dynamic regions of transformation, high productivity and species diversity. Estuaries act as buffers and filters, protecting upland habitats from storm surges and, preventing sediments and pollutants from reaching coastal waters. Estuaries contain diverse habitats: sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, mudflats, fringing salt marshes and mangroves, and provide critical habitats for many species.

Diverse definitions of estuaries have been proposed, emphasizing various sets of attributes, delineating ...

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