This is an excerpt from Emily the book – ‘The Estuaries Ecosystem Tour…presented by Anthony and Kelly’ (Wildlife Rangers at the ‘Green Coastal Wildlife Park’)
Walking along the boardwalk, Ranger Anthony requests for everyone to stop and admire all the nature around them…
“Surrounding the lake we have swamp mahogany and lots of common reed….. these estuaries are the tidal mouth of the large river, where the tide meets the stream… They are full of nutrients making the estuaries the most biologically productive natural habitats in the world.”
What is an Estuary?
An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater of the rivers and streams meet the saltwater and mixes; the lands around these are places of transition.
Avoca Lagoon, was first settle by the Awabakal Aboriginal people, and the name Avoca is Celtic for the ‘Great Estuary or ‘Where the River meets the Sea’.
The Importance of the Estuary They are fundamental and invaluable, supporting life upon which all organisms depend’. The two services they provide, are:
- Water filtration, and
- Habitat protection.
The sheltered waters of the estuaries are the home to countless plants and animals, that like to live in its briny environment, for example: shellfish, worms, and other invertebrates living in the mud, which attracts many different birds, including migrating birds. There are a variety of fish, sea horses, lizards and snakes and many, many other animals.
Healthy estuary conditions attract dolphins as they are vital for their food source, health and very survival.
Habitats associated with estuaries, such salt marshes and mangrove forests, act like enormous filters. As water flows through the salt marsh, marsh grasses and peat (spongy matrix of live roots, decomposing organic matter and soil), filtering pollutants such as herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals out of the water, as well as excess sediments and nutrients.
One reason that estuaries are such productive ecosystems is that the water filtering through them brings in nutrients from the surrounding watershed. In addition to nutrients, the same water, however, can at times bring with it, all the pollutants that were applied t the lands in the watershed. For this reason, estuaries are some of the most fertile ecosystems on the Earth, yet they may also be some of the most polluted, and this is concerning.
Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are also buffer zones. They stabilize shorelines and protect coastal areas, inland habitats and human communities from floods and storm surges.
When flooding does occur, estuaries’ habitats also protect streams, river channels and coastal shores from erosion caused by wind, water, and ice.
Unlike economic services, ecosystems services are difficult to put a value on, but we cannot do without them, and thus are essentially priceless.
Love our environment and look after it, let us keep our footprints as light as possible in this planet we call home.
Another reason why I have written ‘Emily’, and placed the characters, in an Australian beach/bush setting, was to bring notice to the beauty of the nature that surrounds us all, to love nature is to care for it, even in the simple things we all do everyday. Like reducing chemicals on our garden and changing our washing powder, all these small actions when we get together is a huge action towards a better environment and that in turn protects our own health, everyone around us, our pets and native animals. Margaret Loveday
‘Emily’ is available from Amazon and other online stores in paperback and ebook.