NOAA 2001-101
Contact: Stephanie Balian


The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency, will kick-off an interagency campaign celebrating National Estuaries Day on Saturday, Sept. 29 to promote the importance of our nation's estuaries and the need to protect them.

As part of the nationwide celebration, hundreds of students in classrooms across the country will log-on to a live Internet program "Estuary Live," which will showcase the wide variety of estuarine habitats and species. The program will be available on the Internet at on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8:30 a.m. EDT.

"More than 141 million people - over half of our nation's population - live along the narrow coastal fringes near our estuaries," said Scott B. Gudes, acting NOAA administrator. "Coastal oceans and estuaries are among our most productive and valuable natural resources, yet they are among the most threatened. National Estuaries Day is the perfect time to learn about these dynamic areas and explore ways to protect them," added Gudes.

The "Estuary Live" interactive event will explore estuaries at Kachemak Bay, Alaska; Padilla Bay, Wash.; South Slough, Ore.; Old Woman Creek, Ohio; Grand Bay, N.H.; Waquoit Bay, Mass.; the Chesapeake Bay; and more.

Naturalists will guide students through National Estuarine Research Reserves, stopping to point out snakes, birds, plants and other wildlife along the way. Students will also learn about the cultural and historical importance of estuaries and understand the importance of coastal stewardship. A segment featuring the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Puerto Rico will be conducted in English and Spanish. After each segment, students' questions will be answered live over the Internet by experts at the National Estuarine Research Reserves, including naturalists, educators and scientists.

On Sept. 29, NOAA's 25 National Estuarine Research Reserves and EPA's 28 National Estuary Programs will host a variety of educational and recreational events in local communities across the country. These events include a visit from Gudes to the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine, where he will join U.S. Rep. Tom Allen to celebrate and dedicate the newly constructed Maine Coastal Learning Center, a 6,000 square foot research and education facility on the reserve.

The reserve will also host a coastal clean-up, wetlands artwork display and water quality demonstration as part of the celebration. Other activities nationwide include guided nature walks, boat rides, coastal cleanups, special presentations, touch tanks, outdoor games for children and more. Details for these programs and locations are available at

Estuaries, also known as bays, sounds, sloughs, lagoons or marshes, are crucial coastal areas where freshwater mixes with salt water. These areas are vital because they are used as spawning and nursery areas for commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish, act as a buffer against storm surge, help prevent coastal erosion, and provide essential habitat for a variety of birds, terrestrial animals and aquatic life.

For more information on NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System visit

NOAA's National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOS balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

To learn more about NOS, please visit