The main difference between estuary and wetland is that estuary is a partially enclosed coastal water body where freshwater mixes with saltwater, whereas a wetland is an area where water covers the soil either permanently or seasonally.
Estuaries and wetlands are landforms that can occur together. We can describe estuaries and their surrounding areas as wetland areas.
Key Areas Covered
What is an Estuary
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal water body where freshwater from rivers mixes with the saltwater from the ocean. Both seawater and freshwater constantly circulate in and out of estuaries. The blend of seawater and freshwater creates brackish water, which is somewhat salty but not salty as seawater. Landforms like barrier islands and peninsulas protect estuaries from the full force of waves and winds.
There are many types of habitats in and around estuaries, including rocky shores, river deltas, sandy beaches, shallow open water, salt marshes, and tidal pools. In addition, estuaries are home to unique plant and animal species that thrive in brackish waters.
We can categorize estuaries into four different types: coastal plain estuaries, tectonic estuaries, bar-built estuaries, and fjord estuaries. In fact, this classification is on the basis of their formation.
Coastal plain estuaries are the estuaries that form when sea levels rise and fill in an existing river valley. The Chesapeake Bay in the United States is an example of a coastal plain estuary. California’s San Francisco Bay, on the other hand, is an example of a tectonic estuary. Such estuaries form due to tectonic activity, i.e., shifting together and rifting apart of the Earth’s crust. Moreover, when a barrier island separates an estuary from the sea, we call it a bar-built estuary. Fjord estuaries are a form of estuaries glaciers create. They occur when glaciers carve out a deep, steep valley and then retreat while the ocean rushes in to fill the narrow, deep depression.
What is a Wetland
A wetland is an area where water covers the soil either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are among one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems and are home to a wide range of animals and plants. In fact, it can support both terrestrial and aquatic species. The nature of the soil in wetlands and plants and animals living in these ecosystems mainly depends on hydrology or water saturation.
Moreover, the major differentiating factor between wetlands and other landforms is the vegetation of aquatic plants that are adapted to unique anoxic hydric soils. Generally, wetlands occur in all continents except in Antarctica. These vary widely due to regional and local differences in climate, soils, topography, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, etc. Moreover, we can categorize wetlands into two general categories: tidal wetlands (coastal wetlands) and non-tidal or inland wetlands.
Difference Between Estuary and Wetland
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal water body where freshwater from rivers mixes with the saltwater from the ocean, while a wetland is an area where water covers the soil either permanently or seasonally.
In an estuary, freshwater and saltwater usually mix together, whereas a wetland doesn’t necessarily involve saltwater.
An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal water body where freshwater mixes with saltwater, whereas a wetland is an area where water covers the soil either permanently or seasonally. This is the main difference between estuary and wetland.