Conceptual Model of Estuary Ecosystems
An estuary is a semienclosed coastal body of water, which has a free connection with the open sea and within which, sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water from land drainage (Pritchard 1967). Most estuaries have a series of landscape subcomponents: a river (or fresh water) source, a tidal-estuarine segment, marshes (or mangroves depending on latitude), bays, and a pass (or inlet) to the sea. However, all estuaries are quite different; the landscape of each subcomponent can vary, combinations and connections of these subcomponents can vary, and some subcomponents can be missing. The interaction of three primary natural forces causes estuaries to be unique and different.