Bar-built estuaries are created as sandbars and barrier islands protect river mouths from the open ocean. The Outer Banks, off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia, protect three large estuaries called sounds: Pamlico Sound, Currituck Sound, and Albemarle Sound.

Photograph by David Alan Harvey
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estuary
estuary Encyclopedic Entry

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An estuary is an area where a freshwater river or stream meets the ocean. When freshwater and seawater combine, the water becomes brackish, or slightly salty.