shallow water
...key features of Virginia's bays and estuaries
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Shallow Water Communities

clam grounds



  • Marshes - an environment where terrestrial and aquatic habitats overlap; a wetland dominated by grasses.

  • Benthic microalgae - Microscopic plants, which inhabit the sediment surface (or substrate) including diatoms and dinoflagellates.

  • Benthic macroalgae - Commonly called ‘seaweeds' that are large multicellular plants that lack tissues used for reproduction and water transport.

  • SAV - Submerged aquatic vegetation or “SAV” are non-flowering or flowering plants that grow completely underwater.

  • Microbes - Microscopic life forms, particularly bacteria, archaea, protists and viruses.

  • Meiofauna - Animals passing a 0.5 millimeter mesh sieve but retained on a 0.062 millimeter mesh sieve. This is the size of the smallest grain of sand.

  • Macrofauna - Animals retained on a 0.5 millimeter mesh sieve.

  • Nekton - The nekton includes all aquatic animals that actively swim in the water column, such as fish or squid.

  • Phytoplankton - Tiny, free-floating, photosynthetic organisms in aquatic systems.

  • Zooplankton - Animals (mostly microscopic) which drift freely in the water column.



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