Love Your Island - 10 Facts about the Salt Marsh!

It's February, it's cold and there is still 46 days until Spring, but instead of complaining about why this month feels so long when it's actually short, we will try to warm your heart by celebrating Bald Head Island - the island we all love.

Keep visiting our blog this month to learn more about how this island loves us and what you can do in return!

As today is World Wetlands Day, so we thought we'd start our love fest with the Salt Marsh!  Read on for 10 facts about the sometimes stinky, always fascinating Bald Head Island Salt Marsh.

Happy World Wetlands Day

1. Salt Marshes are just one type of Wetlands, others include swampsbogs, and fens; while sub-types include mangrove, carr, pocosin, and varzea.  Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the importance of Wetlands. Often viewed as wasteland, 64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

2. Salt Marshes are coastal wetlands that flood and drain with the tides.  They are marshy because the soil may be composed of deep mud and peat. Peat is made of decomposing plant matter that is often several feet thick. Peat is waterlogged, root-filled, and very spongy.

3. Because salt marshes are frequently submerged by the tides and contain a lot of decomposing plant material, oxygen levels in the peat can be extremely low—a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia is caused by the growth of bacteria which produce the sulfurous rotten-egg smell that is often associated with marshes and mud flats.

4. Salt marshes occur worldwide, particularly in middle to high latitudes. Thriving along protected shorelines, they are a common habitat in estuaries. In the U.S., salt marshes can be found on every coast. Approximately half of the nation's salt marshes are located along the Gulf Coast.

6.  Salt Marshes are essential for healthy fisheries, coastlines, and communities—and they are an integral part of our economy and culture. They also provide essential food, refuge, or nursery habitat for more than 75 percent of fisheries species, including shrimp, blue crab, and many finfish.

7. Salt marshes act as a buffer zone, stabilizing shorelines and protecting coastal areas, inland habitats and human communities from floods and storm surges.  When flooding does occur, our salt marsh acts like a huge sponge, soaking up the excess water.

8. Salt marshes also protect shorelines from excessive erosion caused by wind, water, and ice.  They also provide extra land area which hurricanes must cross before they reach the mainland, reducing the strength and destruction of the storm.  We know that Brunswick and New Hanover County of North Carolina appreciate the BHI salt marsh; home to 300,000+ people year round.

9. Salt Marshes act like an enormous filter; as water flows through, marsh grasses and peat (a spongy matrix of live roots, decomposing organic material, and soil) filter pollutants such as herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals out of the water, as well as excess sediments and nutrients

10. The best way to see the Salt Marsh? By boat of course! Join the BHI Conservancy for our Kayaking program when you are on BHI - along with a naturalist guide, you will explore the unspoiled creeks and learn about the beauty and importance of this habitat.  Each trip offers a unique perspective of BHI and great views of wildlife; this is a must-do before you leave the island! Double kayaks are used and children must be accompanied by an adult. Trips are tide and weather dependent.   Give us a call, if you'd like to join us on this or any of our guided adventures - 910-457-0089!

Here's how you can help the salt marsh, like it helps us:
-Pick up pet waste and other litter to prevent it form washing into the marsh.
-Support Oyster Shell Recycling and Oyster Reef Restoration Projects.
-Tell your Representatives that you want to support wetland conservation!
-Follow fishing rules and regulations in order to protect fish and shellfish populations.
-Support organizations (like the BHI Conservancy!) who are working to conserve our habitats and wildlife!

 
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