Introduction—Welcome to the Estuary!

Summary: Estuaries are unique and often fragile coastal ecosystems that connect aquatic and marine ecosystems. This topic guide provides definitions and images that orient students and promote a sense of place and understanding.

Concepts to teach: Estuarine ecosystems and habitats, tidal cycles, productivity, ecosystem balance

Goals: Students understand components of an estuarine ecosystem, basic associated vocabulary, and the concept that watersheds connect to the ocean through estuaries.

4.2L.1, 5.2L.1, 4.2E1

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify and describe, in simple terms, what an estuary is and what basic life zones make up an estuary
  2. Students will be able to describe at least two physical factors that influence life forms in the estuary.
  3. Students will be able to locate the major life zones and sources of estuary inputs on a map.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Assessments and extensions included in the OCEP Welcome to the Estuary summary above.