Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kayaking in Mid Atlantic Rivers and Creeks

The Mid Atlantic region is home to some of North America's most beautiful kayaking destinations. Habitats in these waterways are determined by salinity and tidal flow. Depending on location, the transition from salt to fresh water may span hundreds of miles or occur in a very short distance.

In the lower sections of these rivers, marsh grasses, crabs, oysters, saltwater fish and other marine life is usually present. Birds are abundant in salt marsh areas, ospreys, kingfishers, herons, egrets, plovers, and rails being a few of the most commonly seen species. Salinity can fluctuate considerably, depending on rainfall, tidal flows and other factors.

Moving up river, salt marsh grasses give way to pickerelweed and trees begin to appear along the banks. Saltwater fish species disappear and brackish species such as channel catfish, white perch, yellow perch and gar become common.

Further up tidal areas, rivers and creek habitats change considerably. Lily pads and cypress trees begin appearing in greater numbers. A wide range of wildlife is abundant. Species of fish that live in these areas include largemouth bass, chain pickerel, sunfish, crappie, several species of catfish, shiners, white perch, yellow perch and other species. In some remote waterways, beavers and river otters are present.

The final zone occurs above the tidal line. Here water levels occasionally rise and fall due to extreme high tides, but the apparent flow is always downstream. This type of habitat is famous for American shad, hickory shad and river herring spawning runs, which occur for 2-3 weeks in the spring. At this stage, water visibility varies widely, depending on a range of factors. A variety of freshwater fish species are found in these smaller creeks and streams.

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