Estuaries Report Card The 2011 Estuaries Report Card for Southwest Florida provides a snapshot of the environmental health the waterways in our region. It is designed to assemble and summarize the best available scientific data into essential reading for every resident or tourist who treasures our beaches, participates in recreational fishing and enjoys Southwest Florida overall. Estuaries are places where freshwater from the land meets the saltwater from the ocean. Estuaries are important to us because many species of fish live there; they act as natural filters of pollutants from rivers and streams; and the wetlands surrounding them act as natural buffers from floods and storm surges. The 'health' and quality of water within an estuary can answer several important questions like: Is the water safe for swimming? Are the fish safe to eat? What effect does this have on me? How does water quality affect the economic health of the region? The health of estuaries is significantly impacted by nutrient pollution. Anything that happens on land within an estuarine watershed has a direct impact downstream of the estuary. The 2011 Estuaries Report Card is a follow up to the 2005 study that assessed and graded the health of the ten watershed estuaries in Southwest Florida, from the Bays, to the Ten Thousand Islands. The 2011 report reveals that the estuaries are in crisis and offers recommendations for action. Read the full report. The plan is to update these Estuaries Report Cards every several years to assess whether the health of our regional estuaries and watersheds are improving or declining.