Estuaries are brackish water places where fresh and salt waters meet. Not always salty and sometimes completely fresh, estuaries are less an exact than they are a mixing pot. | Estuaries and coast | Coastal and Heartland | Indian River Lagoon | Apalachicola | Near St Augustine | Rookery Bay | Tampa and Sarasota Bays | Florida’s water districts | Water bodies | Aquifers

Intro - More than Brackish

By Robert V. Sobczak

We all know the standard definition:

Estuaries are where fresh and salt waters mix.

animation estuary

Oh, the naivete!

Yes, estuaries are brackish, but they are so much more (very much more) than that. And increasingly they are imperiled by forces on both sides. Salty waters are moving in, more and more frequently than ever before thanks to a changing climate. And don't take my word for it. Just ask any fisherman whose ever fished along the freshwater fringe of the Gulf Coast. Not trust a scientist, shame on the scientist. Not trust a old timer angler, shame on you. And then there's the whole "freshwater watershed" side of how estuaries are being similarly stressed. Whether it's alteration of overland flows or degradation of its water quality, estuaries are as much a special place as they are a battle ground for forces hitting them on both sides.

Florida's Coastal Names

Coastal water bodies and beaches deserve our attention more than every. They are nature's canary in the coalmine.

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Mystery of the “high-high”
And why I love the low-lows

Tides are highly predictable …

But also confusing on Naples Beach, Florida.

A glimpse into the tidal mayhem

The reason: Blame the moon and sun and the position of the shoreline. The tidal cycle is semi diurnal – giving us 2 high tides and two low tides per day. But sometimes the highs are really high (i.e. high-highs) and the lows are really low (i.e. low-lows) and other times the lows and highs are in between (i.e. low-highs and high-lows) which look like a camel’s back (see above). In a nutshell, I still can’t figure it out other than tides are higher and lower during full and new moons. Even more confusing than the tides is the longshore current. Unlike where I grew up in Maryland where the longshore current always flowed south, on Naples Beach it reverses from one day to the next.

My personal favorite: A low-low. I love walking in the tidal pools and the hard flat sand feels good on my feet.

brackish manatee

Rapid reversal

We got our water …

But from the wrong place.

Just a week prior to the flooding,
this marsh was cracked mud flat

We were hoping for rain from the sky.