This picture was taken off of the Massachusetts shore, and shows a lobster moving across a polluted seafloor. Pollution on the coastline is a very real issue that is happening all across the world. This can be dangerous to aquatic organisms for different reasons, the first being the choking hazard if it is swallowed, or getting trapped in a floating piece of plastic or ghost net. Runoff falls through the ocean and is deposited onto the seafloor as well, often containing harmful chemicals. Sewage can also block sunlight from the seafloor so that plants growing on the bottom cannot survive.
Trawling is a very big problem for the sandy seafloor. Trawling is when a big, wide-mouthed fishing net is dragged by a boat on either the middle of the sea or the seafloor. This is a common way of fishing for commercial fishermen, as they can cover large amounts of ground at a one time. However, there are many environmental impacts of this method of fishing. Trawling leads to a lot of bycatch, which is not only wasteful, but can lead to the decline of many species of fish due to their catching juvenile fish who will never be able to repopulate. Also, it damages the seafloor, because the trawl rolls along the seafloor, destroying all of the vegetation in its path and uprooting everything, leaving a dead habitat in its wake.
The long-horned sand flea (Americorchestia longicornis) can grow from 2.5 cm (not including their antennae, which can grow even longer than their body) and appears white in color. It's range is from the coast of North America, specifically New England, to the Gulf of Mexico. These crustaceans live on the high tide zone in the warmer months and migrate with tides of warmer climates during colder seasons. They lay their eggs in aquatic flora, such as seaweed. They feed in the early mornings and at dusk when the temperatures are cool, and eat small aquatic life forms.
This is an image of an Atlantic sand crab (Emerita talpoida) digging into the ground back-first, which is where they hide and catch food passing by. These are very common crustaceans to find on the sandy seafloors of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They are very small, and are a tannish, beige in color, oval shaped, with 5 legs and no pincers.
Sand dollars (Dendraster excentricus) are another common invertebrate found in the sandy sea floor. They are typically about 3 inches across, with, dark purple or blue spines covering the star design on their shell. They mostly reside in the temperate and tropical areas of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Things that pose harmful to the sand dollar population are bycatch, sea pollution, and habitat loss.
Sandy Beach (N 42.68562 W 070.76456)
Barrier Beach Preservation and Restoration: http://www.sengekontacket.org/barrier-beach-preservation-and-restoration/
This image shows an overview of the sandy beach at Crane’s Beach. A sandy beach is a beach which is covered in primarily sand and is directly on the shoreline next to the ocean. It is often now being constructed and trudged on too much by humans, which is a problem to the shore because it can create or accelerate beach erosion into the ocean. Also, recreational beaches can have biological habitats destroyed.
This picture shows a seashell, which is a biotic factor of the sandy beach. It is most likely a soft shell clam (Mya arenaria), which is distributed from Labrador to North Carolina, is 1 to 5.5 inches long, has an ovate, moderately thin shell. It lives in sand or mud intertidal to 60 feet. Shellfish like this are a big part of the sandy beach, as they are a common type of infauna found. However, because of overfishing and pollution, their populations are declining.
The driftwood on beaches originate from trees near rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water connected to the ocean and are carried, losing their bark with time so it soaks the water and continues to weather and erode. They are considered debris.
The broken shells and rocks can be broken down even more can add to the sand’s composition. People often leave behind seaglass or broken pottery that cannot be broken down like this.
Sandy beaches are a very important part of the ecosystem because they store and transport sediments, block extreme weather and flooding from inland,breakdown of organic materials and pollutants, nutrient recycling, a habitat to many different organisms, recreational areas, and often a link between aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Sand Dune (N 42.685313 W 070.76201)
Coastal Dune Protection and Restoration: https://www.whoi.edu/fileserver.do?id=87224&pt=2&p=88900
This picture shows the hard structure of the dune directly in front of the sandy beach. This picture was taken of a very windy day when much of the loose sand on the outer part of the dune had been blown off. Underneath, there is a much harder, sturdier form in order to stay in place and protect the land above it from the sea and potential flooding. However, even though it is so tough, it is still not immune from the threat of erosion into the sea, which is why they are so protected.
In this image, a large area of the sand dune is shown, especially its rolling hills, vegetation, and uneven paths. This shows how dunes are constantly moving and changing, and that the roots of vegetation have to be strong enough to withhold the wind and the wearing and tearing of sand from it. The constant changing of the dunes is how the structure of dune is formed. It is the key factor which determines how a dune will grow, shrink, move in certain directions, or even erode into the sea.
The grasses behind the dunes are highly adapted to high salinity, unlike most other species, which is why this is one of the only vegetation growing in this portion of the dune. Most other plants would dry up and die with this amount of salt in the ground, but these few that can survive these conditions are vital to the dunes because they keep it in place and prevent erosion.
This picture displays the line on the sand dune where the grassy-land meets the forest area. The farther back the sand dune goes from the ocean, the less salinity is in the soil, which makes for more tolerable conditions for vegetation to grow in. Certain grasses and a limited amount of other plants can grow near the sea, often being called pioneer plants. Farther back in this picture and the dune consist of taller and more complex
vegetation, such as conifers and moorland heathers. The plants closer to the sea in this picture, die at this point due to competition for water and light.
This image shows a tree on a sand dune, and its roots penetrating deep into the sand. This shows how vegetation on sand dunes is so important to sand dunes, because they help keep the structure of the dune in place and prevent erosion from occurring. Erosion, as stated already, can destroy the dunes as well as the coastal areas above it due to flooding.
This is a dune restoration area sign from the Trustees organization in New England. It is protecting the dunes from people walking on them for a number of reasons. The first being to protect species that inhabit the dunes, specifically the Piping Plover birds as they are nesting to try and re-stabilize their population, as here they are a threatened species. Other reasons why the dunes are protected is to avoid potential erosion caused by treading, because dunes are vital to the coastline, creating a barrier from high tides and storms that could cause flooding to inland communities, and also a barrier between the ocean and the salt marsh or terrestrial habitats. And the final reasons why it is protected is for economic reasons. First, to increase the value of inland real-estate, and second, for recreational use, primarily wildlife watching.
Salt Marsh (N 42.3031 W 070.4714)
Little River Salt Marsh Restoration Project: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/nh/technical/?cid=nrcs144p2_015688
A salt marsh is a coastal wetland that is flooded and then drained because of the incoming tides of salt water from the ocean. They are considered a marsh because of the deep mud and peat from decomposing plant matter that makes it up. Salt marshes are found all around the world, typically more around mid to high latitudes. In the United States, salt marshes occur along every coast, half of which are on the Gulf Coast.
Salt marshes are an extremely important part of the coastline for many reasons. The first reason is because they provide a habitat for many different species of birds and fish, and nursery areas for fishes, shellfish, and crustaceans. The second reason is that it acts as a filter, by absorbing pollutants and nutrients from runoff from land, which is cleaned through the marsh. Because the marsh continues to trap incoming nutrients, it is able to keep up with today's sea level rise, protecting inland from floods and destruction.
There are many different factors that contribute to a salt marsh and the species that live there. First, as stated previously, is the amount of salinity in it. Salt in the water and ground can be a problem for plants because of: the direct harmful effects of Na and Cl, the interference of essential ions, and the influence on a plant cell's osmotic balance. To overcome this great challenge, they have to create a tolerance to salt, so that they do not dehydrate because of it. Another factor of a salt marsh is flooding. Flooding can pose as a problem to vegetation because of the lack of oxygen, and lack of sunlight penetrating through the water to reach the plants.
Salt marsh grass is adapted to surviving floods and high salinity from the ocean. They are important to the salt marsh ecosystem because they can help protect and inhabit different species of birds and fish. Most of the vegetation in the low marsh is not of high variety because of its high salinity, that not many plants can live in it without drying up and dying.
We took this picture from Crane’s beach salt marsh. In it, one can see rocks, sand, mud, and other scattered fallen leaves and twigs. It has just been disturbed, so one cannot clearly see any epifauna apparent in the water. However, there are many, including but not limited to, the fiddler crab, the common coffee the common mummichog, shrimp, the blue crab, and finfish.