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

heron in estuary catching a fish.

Find a Reserve Near You

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.


Blades of blue grass

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is a network of 28 coastal sites designated to protect and study estuarine systems. Established through the Coastal Zone Management Act, the reserves represent a partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states. NOAA provides funding and national guidance, and each site is managed on a daily basis by a lead state agency or university with input from local partners. Learn More.