Saltmarshes

Salt marshes are transitional areas between land and water, occurring along the intertidal shores of estuaries and sounds where salinity ranges from ocean strength to near freshwater. In fall, decaying plants from salt marshes are dislodged by waves, winds, and storms, and transported to mud flats and other surrounding ecosystems where they decompose creating fuel for primary production. Salt marshes rank among the most productive ecosystems on earth.
 
Acting like a sponge, salt marshes decrease the occurrence of flooding and droughts, protecting homes of animals and humans from the drastic changes in water levels that occur without them. Salt marshes also filter the often polluted water that flows through them. Plants, fungi and bacteria break down chemicals in the water as they process it, unloading many pollutants.

Crabs, snails, insects, snakes, turtles, and muskrats (partially aquatic rodents) are common inhabitants of salt marshes. Marshes are havens for birds and an important resting place for migrating birds in particular.

Being an estuarine wetland habitat there has been a lot of salt marsh destruction in the name of development. Most of that destruction was due to filling of marshes to create more land area for homes, industry, and agriculture. Other losses were caused by ditching for mosquito control and diking to create impoundments. Fortunately, people are beginning to realise the full productive and intrinsic value of salt marshes and their wildlife inhabitants, even to the extent that many restoration projects are being initiated.

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