Salt marsh

Along many parts of the U.S. coastline, tall sea grasses grow in salt marshes.

Currin: “It’s a sea of green in the spring and summer!”

Carolyn Currin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says these wetland habitats provide homes for fish and other wildlife. And they help protect shorelines from the erosion caused by waves crashing, day in and day out.

Currin: “The plants themselves are very good at holding the shoreline, holding the sediment in place. They can attenuate wave energy, so the waves that would otherwise perhaps cause erosion on the uplands are knocked down by these plants as the wave goes through the marsh.”

Currin says that by helping prevent ongoing erosion, salt marshes help maintain a protective buffer between coastal communities and the water. Without this buffer, these communities would be more vulnerable to extreme storms, which are growing more common with climate change.

What’s more, salt marshes also function like sponges – soaking up water and reducing the risk of storm surge flooding.

So Currin says preserving these wetlands can be a valuable and cost-effective way to help protect communities from the effects of extreme weather.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Oceans, Species & Ecosystems