I forgot how much I missed salt water. I hadn’t touched the Atlantic Ocean in over two years, and it’s been nearly 5 years since I visited my natal shores on the New Jersey barrier islands. While the sandy beaches, rolling surf, and east coast moonrises rightfully get a fair bit of attention by weekend vacationers, boardwalk cruisers, tanned retirees, and high school summer employees, I love the to chase the tides upstream into the salt marshes.
In the home of the terrapins there’s a relative quietness away from the crashing waves, but soon the gentle lapping of the incoming tides, the song of the redwing blackbird, and the chirp of the osprey provide a different welcoming soundscape. It does not take long to realize why and how these ecosystems are among the most productive on the planet. Saltwater adapted grasses and rich organic silt support incredible diversity and provide critical ecosystem service to those living on the mainland. The life sustained by salt marshes cascades into to other ecosystems from the waterfowl that span continents to the fish that span oceans.