Resilient estuaries and coastal watersheds─Where human and natural communities thrive.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

heron in estuary catching a fish.

About National Estuarine Research Reserves

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 30 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems in collaboration with and service to surrounding communities. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, this partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states supports ecosystem health and the interconnectedness of people and the environment. A broad range of perspectives are incorporated, including Indigenous peoples and tribal nations. Learn More.

What Is an Estuary?

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water—a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater. Learn More.

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