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The Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve

Estuaries are partially enclosed coastal aquatic habitats where an ocean’s salt water is diluted with fresh water from an estuary’s watershed. Long Island’s South Shore Estuary receives salt water from the Atlantic Ocean through inlets in the protective barrier island system and fresh water from groundwater and over one hundred rivers and streams.

The South Shore Estuary was formed during the past 5,000 - 10,000 years by the interaction of rising seas and the glacially-deposited material that makes up Long Island. This interaction shaped the barrier island system and enclosed 173 square miles of bays now characterized by tidal marshes, mud and sand flats, beds of underwater vegetation, and extensive shallows. This barrier and bay system continues to be re-worked by the constant actions of the tides, wind, waves, and coastal storms.

The South Shore Estuary Reserve was formed by the New York State Legislature at the urging of Long Islanders concerned with the long-term health of their South Shore Estuary. West to east, the Reserve stretches from the Nassau - Queens county line to the middle of the Town of Southampton. South to north, it extends from mean high tide on the ocean side of the barrier islands to the inland limits of the watersheds that drain into the bays.

The relatively calm, protected waters of the South Shore Estuary provide the basis for the water-related economic and recreational activities that have evolved from boat building and the harvesting of oysters, hard clams, and salt hay, to recreational boating, sport fishing, waterborne transportation, and tourism. Today, the Estuary is home to the largest concentrations of commercial and recreational vessels, marinas, and other water-dependent businesses in the State, and some of the finest recreational opportunities around.




South Shore Estuary Reserve Office
250 Veterans Memorial Highway • 2nd floor, Room 2A15 •Hauppauge, New York 11788 • Phone: (516) 470-BAYS • Fax: (631) 952-7902• sser@dos.ny.gov