Bay and Coastal Waters
Rhode Island’s coastal waters consist of 159 square miles of estuarine and marine shoreline waters. Estuaries constitute transition zones from freshwater to salt water and are considered highly productive ecosystems that provide nursery habitat for important commercial and recreational fisheries. More than 70% of Rhode Island’s recreationally and commercially important finfish species depend on estuaries for a portion of their life cycle.
In the center of Rhode Island lies Narragansett Bay - a temperate, well –mixed estuary covering 147 square miles. This vital natural resource supports a diversity of recreational activities and is integral to our economy including commercial fisheries, tourism, transportation and industry. The Bay and its watershed are shared with Massachusetts.
The major tributary rivers discharging to the Bay include the Blackstone and Pawtuxet Rivers as well as the Taunton River in Massachusetts. Rhode Island’s coastal waters also include Little Narragansett Bay and a number of coastal ponds.