Unbeknownst to a vast majority of boaters and shore anglers in the southeastern states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina is that they are operating or walking the banks of areas with brackish water. This type of water is essential for marine life, and it provides a nursery for young fish while also being home to mammals. Learn what brackish water is and where to find it. 

What Is The Difference Between Saltwater And Brackish Water

There is a distinct difference between brackish water, saltwater, and freshwater. Brackish is a mixture of both fresh and saltwater. 

The difference between the three types of water is the measurement of salt. Freshwater contains less than .5 parts per thousand, while saltwater averages 35 parts per thousand. The difference between the two is substantial.

As freshwater and saltwater mix, estuaries form. The average salinity in an estuary measures from .6 to 30 parts per thousand. The range is substantial; however, the salinity varies based on the mixture of fresh and saltwater. 

Why Does The Salinity Of Brackish Water Vary

Consider estuaries as transition zones between saltwater and freshwater. Freshwater is inland of coastal areas, whereas the shores and inland tidal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are saltwater. 

The transition zone is a result of freshwater and saltwater mixing. Rivers flowing from the inland areas of states dump into the Atlantic ocean. One example is the Savannah River, which begins at Lake Hartwell and flows through downtown Savannah and into the sea.

As tides rise and fall, seawater flows in and out of marshes and rivers inland of the shores of the ocean. There is a point where the freshwater and the saltwater mix, thus creating brackish water.

The salinity is determined by where the outflow of rivers and inflow of tides join. The salinity is greatest down the river towards the sea before becoming brackish further upstream and eventually shifts to freshwater. 

Is Brackish Water Drinkable

Brackish was is not drinkable by humans in its natural state. The salt levels are above the limits in which the kidneys can process.

One of the primary functions of the kidneys is to remove access salt from the body. Without freshwater, salt levels will not be diluted, and you will suffer from dehydration. 

What Types Of Aquatic And Land Animals Live In Estuaries

While there are many forms of life in estuaries, including fish, insects, birds, and other types of wildlife, they seek refuge in these areas to eat, build nests, and reproduce. 

Anglers have the opportunity to catch what would be known as freshwater fish or saltwater fish but instead can survive in the adjusted salinity level. These include catfish, tarpon, largemouth bass, sheepshead, redfish, bluegill, striped bass, and gar fish. Estuaries provide excellent fishing opportunities from shore or by boat. 

In addition to fish, you will find otters, freshwater turtles and the diamondback terrapin, and even alligators. 

Whether you are walking the banks, boating, and or wading and swimming in the water, it is essential to understand that alligators may be present. Keep a sharp eye for gators resting on the shore or swimming to avoid coming in close contact. While alligator attacks are rare, keep your space. 

Have You Unknowingly Been Boating Or Fishing In Brackish Water

Without evening knowing it, you more than likely have encountered brackish water. The mixing of the water is unique because of the vast number of species that reside in the waters and the fact that it is grounds to a multitude of breading wildlife. Remember to use caution because alligators are likely present. Lastly, when fishing, remember to obtain a fishing license.