Coastal salt marshes are often called the nurseries of the sea because they provide food and habitat for more than 75 percent of commercial fish species in the U.S., as well as vital habitat for shorebirds like rails and seagulls. Salt marshes also protect shorelines by breaking up and reducing wave speed, trapping sediment, and preventing coastal erosion. But the rising sea can drown the grasses that hold the habitat together.

Salt marsh

Moody: “The grass ends up spending too much time under the water, and it’s not healthy for it. And as the grass starts to die back, its roots can’t hold on to the sediment anymore. So the water starts moving in further, and that starts hurting the grass.”

That’s Josh Moody with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. They’re re-planting marsh grass at a restoration site near the Rehoboth canal in Lewes, Delaware. But first, they had to build up the marsh using logs made from coconut fiber.

Moody: “And what they do is they give the plants that we’re going to put in time to establish. So it gives them time to become a robust community.”

Moody says by the time these bio-logs decay in two to five years, there will be a strong, healthy community of marsh grass to protect against the rising tide.

This segment of Climate Connections was produced in partnership with ISeeChange.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media and Eli Chen/WDDE Delaware Public Media for iSeeChange.
Photo: Copyright protected.

More Resources
Watershed Habitats – Salt Marsh
What is a salt marsh?
Living Shorelines
AUDIO: The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Updates Lewes Shoreline Project