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An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water along the coast where freshwater from rivers and streams meet and mix with salt water from the ocean. Estuaries and the lands surrounding them are places of transition from land to sea, and although influenced by the tides, they are protected from the full force of ocean waves, winds, and storms by such landforms as barrier islands or peninsulas. Because of the many species of fish and wildlife that rely on the sheltered waters of estuaries as protected places to spawn, estuaries are often called the ³nurseries of the sea.´
Definition given by Scientist Pritchard(1967) Estuary is A semi enclosed coastal body of water which has a free connection with open sea and within which sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water derived from the land drainage.
Classification of Estuaries
It can be classified on two basis: (1) Geomorphological classification
(2) Physical classification (1) Geomorphological classification Has been given by Pritchard (1967) classified into four types: (i) Drowned river valley estuary or Coastal plane estuary (ii) Fjord estuary (iii) Bar-build estuary Bar(iv) Estuaries produced by Tectonic action of the earth.
(i) Drowned River Valley Estuary
Drowned river valley or coastal plain estuaries were formed by rising sea level during the last interglacial period (about 15,000 15, years ago) which flooded river valleys that were cut into the landscape when sea level was lower. Chesapeake Bay (Virginia and lower. Maryland) and Galveston Bay (Texas) are classical examples of this type of estuary. This is the most classical type of estuary found estuary. along the coastal line with a relatively wide coastal plain and according to it is also called as Coastal Plain Estuary . Coastal Plain Estuaries are formed by the sea level rising and filling an existing river valley. valley. Example: Example: Sundarban Estuary
(ii) Fjord Estuary
Such estuaries are not found in India. These are formed in the cold India. continental zone by glacial action and their mouth particularly gauzed by glacial deposits and they are very deep ranging depth from 300-400m. In colder climates, glaciers cut deep valleys in the 300-400m landscape. landscape. When glaciers recede during warmer climate periods, coastal waters fill the valley to form fjord-type estuaries, which are fjordcommon in New England and Alaska. Alaska.
(iii) Bar- Build Estuaries BarThey are commonly formed by the up rise of shoreline by the deposits of sand and soil as the mouth of such coastal water body is narrow accordingly the extend of tidal effect is also reduced. The movement of sand and reduced. formation of sandbars along the coastline can enclose bodies of water and form lagoon-type or bar-built lagoonbarestuaries such as Laguna Madre, Texas. Texas. (iv) Tectonic Estuary Formed by tectonic action of earth surface. surface. Earthquakes and faulting (the development of faults) faults) may cause the rapid sinking of coastal areas below sea level to form tectonically produced estuaries such as San Francisco Bay, California. California.
There are two type of estuary: estuary: (1)Positive Estuary (2) Negetive Estuary (1)Positive Estuary: These are those in which the influx of Estuary: fresh water is sufficient to undergo mixing and accordingly the pattern of salinity variation is increasing towards the river mouth and decreasing towards the tidal confluence from the mixohaline zone. Pattern of zone. salinity variation is horizontal. Further they have low O2 horizontal. concentration in deeper water because of the high organic detritus load. Such type of estuary are load. considered as very productive. productive.
(2) Negative Estuary Pattern of salinity variation is vertical. At vertical. the top the salinity will be more and towards bottom its decreases. They are decreases. found in arid region where the rate of evaporation is more than that of rate of influx of water. In vertical barrier O2 water. concentration remain same so there is no organic load at bottom and considered as low/poor productive. productive.
Common characteristics of Indian Estuaries:
Mouth part is horse-shoe shaped. horseshaped. Facing towards sea gentle slope & on river side it is steep. steep. Mouth zone gauzed by diversified population of mangroves. mangroves. Having vertical distribution of salinity. salinity. The depth and width generally increases. increases. The bottom of the estuary gets built up due to deposition of materials brought by the floodwaters. floodwaters. Biologically an estuary is more unique in allowing the development of a set of plants and animals that can thrive in a buffer media of estuary. Euryhaline organisms estuary. capable develops and thrive here. here.
Estuarine environment supports pure freshwater forms in the upper reaches, euryhaline forms in the middle regions and stenohaline forms in areas near to the mouth. During flooding and monsoon conditions, only freshwater forms are present and during dry period or summer with no or less freshwater inflow more marine forms inhabit the region and the euryhaline brackishwater forms exist during rest of the period. Because of their sheltered nature, estuaries offer safe navigation and anchoring of boats and ships. Ideal nursery areas for a wide variety of commercially important marine fin fishes and shell fishes. Estuarine characters influenced by tidal regimes.
Primary Characteristics of Estuary
The four primary characteristics of a freshwater estuary outlined in The Glossary of Geology are described in greater detail below. below. (1) Drowned River Mouths A drowned river mouth occurs when the lower end of a river is submerged or flooded by encroaching water from the Great Lakes. Drowned river mouths are Lakes. typically the result of geologic factors that have been occurring over thousands of years. At the end of the last years. Ice Age around 10,000 years ago, massive amounts of 10, ice, which were as much as several hundred feet thick, retreated from much of the Great Lakes Basin (Dott & Attig, 2004). As the ice retreated, the earth s crust, 2004) which had been compressed by the incredible weight of the ice, started to very slowly rebound. rebound.
The rebounding of the earth s crust is still occurring today. today. The crustal rebound has also caused the outlet of the Great Lakes to rebound, sometimes faster than areas downstream. downstream. The rise in the outlet level of the Great Lakes has created a subsequent rise in lake water level and the encroachment of Great Lakes water into river valleys, thereby creating drowned river mouth systems (Herdendorf, 1990). In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey 1990) (1995) has found that the southwestern portions of Lake 1995) Superior have risen approximately 15 to 18 feet over the past 2000 years. They estimate that the lake level rise in years. those areas is occurring at a rate of one inch per decade. decade. Their study predicts that the rising Lake Superior water levels attributable to crustal rebound will continue to inundate low-lying river mouths and expand lowwetlands. wetlands.
(2) River-Lake Transition Zone RiverFreshwater estuaries have a zone of transition from stream water to lake water. The mixing of water water. in this transition zone is influenced by seiche and wind tides and creates unique characteristics. For example, characteristics. stream water typically has a higher temperature and greater turbidity (i.e., the degree of cloudiness in (i. water caused by suspended solids) than Great Lakes water. water. The mixing of river and lake water in a freshwater estuary can affect temperature, turbidity, and chemical composition (Herdendorf, 1990). Those 1990) affects can, in turn, impact water density; currents; density; currents; and sediment, nutrient, and contaminant transport, all of which influence important ecological processes. processes.
(3)Seiche and Wind Tides
The Great Lakes exhibit an interesting natural phenomenon called a seiche . A seiche is an oscillation, or periodic back-and-forth movement, back-andthat occurs in large water bodies (Herdendorf, 1990; 1990; Neuendorf et al., 2005). One way to visualize a al. 2005) seiche is to imagine a bowl of water that you gently shake. shake. After shaking the bowl, the water moves back-and-forth. back-and-forth. The same phenomenon happens in the Great Lakes, only the factors shaking the Great Lakes are atmospheric disturbances such as winds or changes in barometric pressure. In water bodies as pressure. large as the Great Lakes, the back-and-forth back-andmovement never actually stops and seiche effects can be observed on a daily basis. The intervals, or basis. periods, between seiche peaks on the Great Lakes can range from minutes to more than eight hours (Keillor, 2003). 2003)
Seiches can cause changes in water surface elevations of a few inches or several feet depending upon atmospheric conditions. Freshwater estuaries experience frequent wet and dry periods, especially near the water margins, due to seiche effects. A wind tide, or storm surge, is a vertical rise in water level on the leeward, or downwind, side of a water body as a result of strong winds. Storm surges on the Great Lakes can produce a change in water level of up to 8 feet under extreme conditions (Keillor, 2003). Wind tides can also be a contributing factor to seiche effects.
(4)Barrier Spits and Bay mouth Bars Freshwater estuaries are commonly separated from the adjacent main body of water by a barrier spit or bay mouth bar. bar. Spits and bars are accumulations of sand and gravel in the Great Lakes that can form entirely or partly across the mouth of a river. Many, although not all, river. freshwater estuaries are partially enclosed by bars or spits. spits.
Factors affecting productivity of Estuaries
Primary productivity of estuaries is highly correlated with phytoplankton biomass and an index of light availability in the photic zone. zone. Because estuaries are turbid and nutrient rich, light availability may be the most important factor controlling biomass-specific productivity. biomassproductivity. Boynton et al. (1982) suggested that estuarine phytoplankton productivity in system, high during warm periods of the year, and at times when ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus are low.
Important Estuarine Resources in India
These are: (i) Hoogly Matlah Estuary (West Bengal) (ii) Mahanadi Estuary (Orissa) (iii) Godavari Estuary (Andhra Pradesh) (iv) Krishna Estuary (Andhra Pradesh) (v) Cauvery Estuary (Tamil Nadu) (vi) Narmada Estuary (Gujarat) (vii) Tapti Estuary (Gujarat)
Hoogly Matlah Estuary (West Bengal)
It is positive estuary. AreaArea-42500 ha. It is a network of two rivers Hoogly and Matlah. The lower tidal stretch of the river Ganges, known as Hoogly (ca. 280 km), flows southward before entering the Bay of Bengal forming a vast mangrove-enriched mangroveestuarine delta called Sunderbans.
Zonation of Hoogly Matlah Estuary
It is divided into five zones. These are very zones. important from fishery point of view. view. Zone I: Also called as Freshwater zone. It extends from zone. Nabadwip in the north to Konnagar Zone II: Also called as Middle zone or Gradient zone. II: zone. Extends from Konnagar to Diamond harbour. harbour. Zone III: Also called as Lower or Marine zone. Extends III: zone. from Diamond harbour to the mouth of the estuary including entire lower Sunderbans. Most productive zone Sunderbans. from fishery point of view. view. Zone IV: Includes river Rupnarain. IV: Rupnarain. Zone V: Includes river Matlah around Port Canning. Canning.
Physicochemical Characteristics of HooglyHoogly-Matlah estuary
Physicochemical characteristics of this partially mixed estuary are largely influenced by the interaction of seawater and discharge of riverine freshwater, annual precipitation and surface runoff. runoff. The levels of salinity, total dissolved solids, hardness and conductivity showed an increasing downward trend. trend. Marked increase in biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) values (2.20 5.95 mg/l) was recorded in Babughat whereas correspondingly low values (0.75 2.82 mg/l) were noticed at Gangasagar. This can be attributed Gangasagar. mainly due to huge organic load of untreated sewage from the twin city Howrah and Calcutta situated in the east and west of the river. river.
Level of metals registered a seasonal pattern, with an increase during late monsoon months (September October), a period characterized by low salinity and relatively low pH of the water. water. Water temperature ranges from 20°C to 34.5°C. 20° 34. pH ranges between 7.5 to 8.5. Water transparency ranges from 8 to 27. 27. Nitrate level ranges from 0.04 to 0.61mg/l 61mg/l Phosphate level ranges from 0.03 to 0.19 Silicate, ranges from 3.2-12.3 mg/l. 12. mg/l. Distribution of Salinity in first three zones: zones: Zone I: 0.6 ppt Zone II: 3-8 ppt II: Zone III: 17-21 ppt III: 17Zone I & II can be called as estuary but zone third is actually the mouth of estuary. estuary.
Plankton production in HooglyHooglymatlah estuary
In Hoogly Matlah estuary plankton production is bimodal. bimodal. First peak June August Second peak- Nov-Feb peak- NovMinimum production- During last monsoon productionmonth. month. Highest production- Upper zone productionMedium production- lower zone productionLowest production- Middle zone production-
Fisheries of Hoogly Matlah estuary
Catch composition of particular zone of estuary depend on resident fish species and the migratory fish species. species. Hilsa is dominant fish species. species. The total fish catch of this estuary is fluctuating within the range of 2,270-26,660 tonnes (1957-58) and (1984270-26, 1957-58) 198485) respectively. 85) respectively. Maximum fish catch is coming from zone III which contribute to 70-75% of total fish catch of the Hoogly 70-75% Matlah estuary. estuary. Catch of Hilsa fluctuated between 114 1nd 2,359 tonnes during 1956-58 and 1975-76, respectively and during 19561975-76, 19911991-92 the total catch from this estuarine system varied from 13,213 to 65,026 tonnes. Of which, the 13, 65, tonnes. contribution of Hilsa was from 9,004 to 9,110 tonnes. tonnes.
The peak catches of Hilsa were from JulyJulyAugust, mid of October and winter (November(November-June). Higher catches during winter attributed to environmental conditions, while greater inflow of freshwater during monsoon contributed to higher catch.
Important fish species from commercial point of view
Hilsa ilisha Lates calcarifer Liza parsia L. tade Mugil cephalus Mystus Eutroplus suratensis Polynemus peradisus Mugil parsia Mugil tada Penaeus indicus Perna perna Sillago panijius Some species of prawn (Penaeus indicus, P. monodon, Metapenaeus monoceros, M. brevicornis)
Type of nets used
Maximum catch comes from the use of bag net contributing about 70-80% 70-80% of the total catch (Bag nets are set net or stationary nets which are fixed at one place against the water currents). currents). Catch of Hilsa is done in the upper reaches of estuaries by dip net and purse net and in lower reaches by gill nets and encircling nets. nets.
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