Estuary management

So what is an estuary?


Estuaries are where rivers meet the sea; a mixing place of seawater and freshwater that flows from the catchment. Estuaries are dynamic, ever changing environments that are not quite fresh and not quite marine. They provide essential habitat for many species,  as well as areas of social, cultural and economic significance.

Estuaries provide key spawning and nursery grounds for many species of fish, and drought refuge and critical breeding and foraging areas for birds. They also play a pivotal role in maintaining water quality through nutrient and sediment filtering.

Estuaries underpin key social, economic and cultural heritage values within our region. They are a significant drawcard for tourism and are highly valued by the local and broader communities for scenic beauty, recreational fishing, swimming, camping, bird watching and boating.

Where are the estuaries?

There are eight major estuaries in the Glenelg Hopkins region: The Hopkins, Merri, Moyne, Yambuk, Fitzroy, Surry and Glenelg estuary and Fawthrop Lagoon.

Most of these estuaries close from time to time following the formation of a sand bar at the estuary mouth. This is a natural opening and closing process.

How do you manage an estuary?

The bar can be opened naturally (by increasing pressure as water level rises or by wave action) or artificially (mechanically e.g. shovel or excavator).

The preference for management of an estuary mouth closure is always to let nature take its course but inflows to estuaries and monitoring of water levels is a constant in the waterway manager’s role.

Getting involved – Estuary Watch

Dina Selman has been monitoring the water quality of the Hopkins River with the Hopkins River EstuaryWatch group for seven years
Estuary Watch Volunteers Warrnambool

You can get involved with citizen science programs and projects through the Estuary Watch Program. This volunteer program helps us as waterway managers understand what is going on.


Find out more about Estuary Watch