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An anabranch is a section of a river or stream that diverts from the main channel or stem of the watercourse and rejoins the main stem downstream. Local anabranches can be the result of small islands in the watercourse. In larger anabranches, the flow can diverge for a distance of several kilometers before rejoining the main channel.
The term anabranch, in its hydrological meaning, is used more frequently in Australia than in the rest of the English-speaking world.
The term braided river describes watercourses which are divided by small islands into multiple channel threads within a single main channel, but the term does not describe the multiple channels of an anabranching river.
A bayou is often an anabranch.
- In the Fraser River delta of British Columbia, Canada, North Arm Fraser River, Middle Arm Fraser River, and South Arm Fraser River each fall into Georgia Strait separately. On the other hand, Annacis Island splits (South Arm) Fraser River into the (main) Annieville Channel and the (smaller) Annacis Channel, which rejoin below the island.
- In western New South Wales the Great Darling Anabranch is the ancestral path of the Darling River, dividing south of Menindee and extending for 460 km before joining the Murray River. The anabranch contains flowing water only in wetter years.
- The Bahr el Zeraf in southern Sudan splits from the Bahr al Jabal section of the White Nile and flows for 240 km (150 mi), before rejoining the White Nile proper upriver from Malakal.
- Approximately twenty-five minutes out[clarification needed] of Charters Towers is a section of the Burdekin River known as 'the anabranch'. This strip of water is separate from the main flood way, and is typically dry during the sunnier months. Once there is consistent rain, it will meet up with the river again and flood with fresh water. It is well known for barramundi fishing.
- North, Colin P. "Recognition of the Sedimentary Architecture of Dryland Anabranching (Anastomosing) Rivers". Journal Of Sedimentary Research 77 (11): 925–938.
- NSW Office of Water - "Darling Anabranch"