Deep under-water, the Delaware Estuary is teaming with life in a ‘hidden’ world at the bottom of the river and bay. Plants and animals make up benthic communities, containing oysters, grasses, worms, sponges, and many tiny animals living inside the mud. These creatures form important food webs, provide homes and shelter, and nursery grounds for fish. The benthos also has an important role regulating in water quality, sediment quality, and protecting shorelines from waves and erosion.
In 2005, the benthic habitat of the Delaware Estuary was identified as a key priority needing to be studied. This lead to an effort called the Delaware Estuary Benthic Inventory (DEBI), a partnership between 10 academic, federal, nonprofit, and state institutions. DEBI was launched in 2007, with field work conducted between 2008-2009.
Scientists sampled more than 230 locations across 91 river miles between the mouth of Delaware Bay and Philadelphia. A whole range of data were collected for sediment, water quality, fauna, metals, and hard bottom data. Data from DEBI can be downloaded from the ‘Data & Reports’ tab.
For more information on the Delaware Estuary Benthic Inventory, please contact Angela Padeletti at apadeletti@DelawareEstuary.org.