Welcome to the Delaware Estuary Information Gateway

What makes the Delaware Estuary uniquely valuable? What distinguishes it from other large American estuaries? What are its hallmark animals, plants and resources? What are the principle environmental challenges it faces? In the Delaware Estuary Information Gateway, you'll find answers to these questions by highlighting the “signature” environmental traits and issues within four regions of the Delaware Estuary: Schuylkill Valley, Upper Estuary, Lower Estuary, and Delaware Bay.

The message is clear: The Delaware Estuary is a unique resource that is internationally important for historical, socioeconomic and environmental reasons. Once home to the first major city in the New World and the initial seat of the United States, the Delaware Estuary was the principle corridor for commerce that sustained the Industrial Revolution in America, and a major strategic port for national defense. This storied legacy of the Delaware as a working river of national strategic importance continues into the 21st century. But, unknown to many, coexisting with this commercial backdrop are some of the nation’s best environmental treasures not to be found anywhere else in the world.

To explore and learn more about this unique resource, please visit the Delaware Estuary Information Gateway.

For a PDF copy of the Partnership’s new brochure summarizing the new conceptual framework for the Delaware Estuary's ecosystem, please click here.


Distinguishing Facts


  • The Delaware Estuary is utilized by over 200 fish species, both residents and migrants.
  • The Estuary provides habitat for federally protected endangered species populations of dwarf wedgemussels, short-nose sturgeon, bald eagles, and bog turtles.
  • The Estuary region is representative of 185 natural-community types encompassing 35 broader-scale ecological systems.
  • The Delaware Estuary currently contains more than 405,000 acres of wetlands, more than 126,000 acres of which are recognized as internationally important.
  • The Delaware Estuary is home to one of the largest freshwater tidal estuaries in the world.
  • The Estuary supports the largest breeding population of horseshoe crabs in the world.
  • The Delaware Estuary is one of the four most-important shorebird migration sites in the world with the second-highest concentration of shorebirds in North America. The estuary also provides wintering and migratory habitat to many species of songbirds and raptors.


  • The Delaware River and Estuary system provides drinking water to over 9 million people within the watershed and an additional 6 million people outside the watershed.
  • The port system generates $19 billion in annual revenue.
  • The Estuary supports the world’s largest freshwater port (approximately 3,000 vessels a year) and is the largest receiving center for crude oil, steel, paper, and meat imports.
  • The annual harvest of Eastern oysters from the Estuary exceeds $1.5 million in market value.
  • 70% of the oil shipped to the East Coast of the United States passes through the Delaware Estuary, making it the second- largest refining petrochemical center in the nation.


  • Just over 6,000 square miles of land area drains directly into the Delaware Estuary’s study area.
  • Over 6 million people live in communities located within the Estuary’s study area, and 9 million people in the entire Delaware River-Estuary system.
  • The Delaware Estuary is the only tri-state Estuary system included in the National Estuary Program.

The DEIG node was developed to provide a single point of reference for a diverse array of educational, programmatic, science and technical information for easy access by the public, educators, and environmental entities. Send suggestions or additional information to gateway@delawareestuary.org
Copyright 2009 — Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Site MapSearch
Website designed by GreenTreks Network, Inc.