Georgia`s Salt Marshes

North Carolina’s Salt Marshes
Adapted for North Carolina by Amy Sauls
original By Becci Curry
Where are they?
• North Carolina has over 2
million acres of estuary
along the coast, which
includes salt marsh, sound,
and beaches.
• NC Coast has a rich
diversity due to the
influence of both the warm
Gulf Stream and the cold
Labrador current that cross
offshore off Cape Hatteras.
North Carolina
Salt Marsh
What lives in a marsh?
• Look closely and you
will soon discover that
the marsh is alive with
many interesting
• This female fiddler
crab is ready to run
into her burrow to hide
from predators!
• Many animals depend
on detritus for food
such as fiddler crabs…
• This is a male fiddler.
Check out his large
claw; used for
defending himself, and
waving at the ladies!
Blue Crab
• The blue crab is
one of the top
predators in the
marsh. It eats
snails, fishes, and
small crabs.
• Mud snails think that
detritus is yummy!
• What’s detritus???
• Detritus is dead and
decaying plant and
animal matter.
• Periwinkle snails
live their lives
sliding up and
down marsh
grass. As the
tides come and
go, they lick the
algae that collects
there …whew!
• Flounder are prized fish
for the dinner table, but
these flat fish are
predators that like to feed
on shrimp, small fish and
other organisms along the
bottom of the sound.
• Notice that both eyes are
on one side. While the top
side of the fish is very
dark, the bottom side is
North Carolina’s state fish is the………….
Great Blue Heron
Red Drum!
• Please be sure to check North Carolina Division
of Marine Fisheries for the latest recreational
rules and regulations when you fish in coastal
areas. There are size limits as well as number
of fish per person per day limits. You must also
have a fishing license.
• Why are there limits?
Ribbed Mussels
• Ribbed mussels have
byssal threads that act
like roots or holdfasts
to keep them from
washing out to sea.
They are filter feeders.
• Oysters are very important in
North Carolina. They live in
the intertidal zone (between
low and high tides) or subtidal
zone (below the low tide) and
are filter feeders. Because of
their great capacity for
filtering the water for
microscopic food such as
plankton, they clean the water
at the same time!
Diamondback Terrapin
• These unique turtles are
found in the salt-marsh
estuaries, tidal flats, and
• Their scutes bear deep
growth rings. They are
often grey bodied. These
turtles like to feed on
marine snails, clams, and
• Development of coastal
marshes has destroyed
much of their habitat.
The plants in the marsh have many
special adaptations.
Salt Marsh Cord Grass
Black Needle Rush
Marsh elder
Marsh Elder
Glasswort aka
• There are many
resident birds that nest
in the marsh, as well
as many migratory
Great American Egret
Little Blue Heron
• The marshes serve as a
nursery ground for
juvenile fish and shellfish,
that have sport as well as
commercial value. About
90% of the seafood that is
harvested commercially
spend a portion of their
lives in the marsh system.
• The marshes act as a
buffer, which protect the
upland areas, from the
forces of storms and tides.
• The marshes and
estuaries also serve as
a tertiary treatment
• The marsh grass and
sediments act as a sink
and pump, adding
large amounts of
nutrients to the sea.
• The scenic beauty of
the marsh attracts
many visitors.
• Many people enjoy
boating, canoeing,
birding, or just wading
around in this diverse
Our Estuary
• Located between the
mainland & barrier
• Where fresh & salty water
mix, the water is usually
referred to as brackish
• Habitats include: salt
marsh, mud flats, sand
flats, sounds, and tidal
• Rain water brings
dissolved minerals,
chemicals, materials
from land
• Mixes with nutrients
in the salt water to
create biologically
productive system
The Fouling Community
• The plants and animals
that live on or near the
docks & pilings
• Free floating (plankton)
• Sessile (barnacles,
tunicates and sponges)
• Mobile (invertebrates)
Plankton: Free Floaters
• Zooplankton: animal
*copepods (oar-foot)
• Phytoplankton: plant
*diatoms: y/g algae,
• Meroplankton: temp.
crab, barnacle larvae
• The next time you get
a chance, go “marsh
mucking”. You never
know what you’ll