Salem Maritime National Historic Site
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  • Estuary

    Learn about the

    Saugus River Watershed


    Ecosystem: a community of living and nonliving things interacting with each other in the same place.

    Estuary: a partially enclosed body of water where seawater mixes with inland freshwater.

    Brackish water: water having more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater.

    Audio Transcript

    Hello again. We’re standing at the start of the Nature Trail, and behind me is the Saugus River.

    Today we’ll be exploring how plants and animals interact with each other and with their environment. In other words, we’ll be talking about an ecosystem. But what is an ecosystem? An ecosystem is a community of living organisms, like plants and animals, as well as nonliving components, like water, rocks, and soil. In an ecosystem, there are producers, like plants, that generate sugars. There are also consumers, like animals, that consume plants as well as other animals. There are also decomposers, like bacteria and fungi, which break down dead organisms and recycle their nutrients back into the ecosystem. Today, we’ll be exploring how matter moves through the environment, and how all of these different players interact with each other in the ecosystem.

    This nature trail is about 3 miles upstream of the Atlantic Ocean, and we’re at a point of the Saugus River known as an estuary.

    An estuary is a point near the mouth of a river where freshwater from farther inland meets salt water from the ocean, together making brackish water. Because this estuary is so close to the ocean, it has a high tide and a low tide throughout the course of the day. As we move along the nature trail and follow the path of the Saugus River, you’ll see how much this estuary impacts the surrounding ecosystem.