NOAA 2002-130
Contact: David Miller
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Agencies Present Interactive Web Based Program - “Estuary Live”

Children across the country will be able to experience the hidden treasures of our nation’s estuaries live via the Internet when the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) present “Estuary Live” on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4.

Thousands of students will log-on from 11:30 a.m. to 6:10 p.m. EDT on Oct. 3 and 8:30 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. EDT on Oct. 4 for live interactive programming from a variety of estuarine reserve locations. The program will kick off National Estuaries Day, a nationwide celebration of 28 events in 16 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. To log on to Estuary Live please visit

"Over half of our nation's population live along the narrow coastal areas near our estuaries," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "Our coastal oceans and estuaries are incredibly productive and valuable natural resources, but they are also among the most threatened. The events celebrating National Estuaries Day is a perfect time to learn about these dynamic areas and explore ways to protect them."

"Estuaries are important for many reasons: as nursery habitat for major fisheries, as feeding grounds for migratory birds, as places where people go to enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming. This is why I am so pleased to see EPA's National Estuary Program and NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserves Program working together to raise public awareness of the importance of estuaries," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

The "Estuary Live" interactive event will showcase estuaries:

  • Pamlico Sound in North Carolina
  • Elmer's Island in Louisiana
  • South Slough in Oregon
  • Salish Sea in Washington
  • North Inlet in South Carolina
  • Charlotte Harbor in Florida
  • Great Bay in New Jersey
  • Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

These live events will be supplemented with videotape presentations from the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, in Florida; the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, in Alabama; the San Francisco Bay National Estuary Program, in California; the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, in Massachusetts; and the Galveston Bay National Estuary Program, in Texas.

Estuaries are places where rivers meet the sea. An estimated 75 percent of the U.S. commercial fish catch depend on estuaries as primary habitat or as spawning or nursery areas. Commercial and recreational fishing contributes $111 billion to the nation's economy and support 1.5 million jobs.

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. 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.

NOAA and other Commerce Department employees in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area will join Deputy Secretary of Commerce Sam Bodman, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, and Deputy Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Scott B. Gudes on Thursday, Oct. 3, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., in the Commerce Department auditorium to celebrate National Estuaries Day. Area school children and agency employees will enjoy Estuary Live, an interactive field trip of NOAA's Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Estuaries, also known as bays, sounds, sloughs, lagoons or marshes, are crucial coastal areas where freshwater mixes with salt water. These important coastal habitats are used as spawning grounds and nurseries for at least two-thirds of the nation’s commercial 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.

On the weekend of Oct. 5-6, 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. For event schedules, log on to

NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System plays a valuable role in the nation's effort to sustain healthy, functioning estuaries. The reserve system is a network of 25 protected areas established for long-term research, environmental monitoring, education and stewardship.

NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOAA Ocean Service) is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service 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 and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, please visit