The meeting of land and sea often creates a rich and colorful…

The meeting of land and sea often creates a rich and colorful environment. This satellite image shows Mexico’s Laguna de Términos, a coastal lagoon off the Gulf of Mexico. A skinny barrier island forms the lagoon’s two connections to the ocean; the eastern side is the usual inlet (right), while the western side forms an outlet. Rivers feed freshwater into the lagoon from the south and southwest. These introduce sediments that cause some of the lighter swirls in the image. Winds and tides also contribute to this turbidity. The sheltered nature of the lagoon allows fresh and salt water to mix gradually, providing harbor for many forms of life. Oyster beds thrive in the river mouths; seagrasses prefer the calmer, saltier waters, and mangrove trees line the shore, slowly desalinating water for themselves as their roots shelter young fish and shrimp. (Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)