How coastal wetlands work & the benefits they provide

Wetlands are part of what makes the Maine coast beautiful and attractive to residents and tourists alike. And they provide a variety of valuable and related ecological and societal benefits:

 

Shoreline anchoring: Coastal wetlands “anchor” barrier beaches and sand dunesto the mainland. As new sediment washes into the marsh with each tide, the marsh surface maintains elevation as sea level rises.

Storm surge protection: Coastal wetlands slow wind-driven waves, and help to protect uplands from erosion during storm-related coastal flooding.

Pollutant buffering: By trapping sediments and filtering water, marshes prevent pollution from reaching surface and ground water.

Vital habitat: Many species of birds, fish, and other wildlife use salt marshes for food and shelter. Marshes provide nursery and breeding habitat for commercially valuable fish and shellfish.

Recreational uses: Coastal wetlands support activities such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching, clamming, etc.