Gulf Shores and Orange Beach | 3 Things to Know Before You Go

What is an estuary?

An estuary is a body of water usually found where rivers meet the sea, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s a mixture of fresh water draining from the land, as well as salty seawater. Mobile Bay is the fourth largest estuary in the United States, and many animals rely on the ecologically sensitive estuaries in the Gulf Coast as a place to breed, eat and stop during migration.
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Local wildlife is all around you.

The beaches, coastal dunes, back bays, marshes and maritime forests play host to a variety of animals found only here. Check out the more than 50 unique birding sites that make up the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail, or the protected sanctuary of the islands of Perdido Marine Park. The Orange Beach Canoe Trail provides a fun way to paddle silently past the habitats of the back bays, and be sure not to miss the 12-acre Wade Ward Nature Park, located in the heart of Gulf Shores.
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The gas in your car might come from here.

You won’t see them from Orange Beach or Gulf Shores, but if you travel west to Dauphin Island, oil derricks dot the seascape, extracting valuable natural resources from the Gulf. Alabama is among the top 10 producers of oil in the United States, and the state has developed some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the country for drilling in its waters.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. In his spare time he enjoys photography, astronomy, hiking, hanging out with his family and dog, and of course, traveling! His favorite RTX spots to visit are Orange Beach, Alabama, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, but he's visiting new places all the time. .

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