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Salt Marsh

Salt marshes occur along Florida's coastline in intertidal zones where there is low wave energy. The most extensive salt marshes are found in areas where the land exhibits little relief. Among the most productive habitats in the world, and as such, provide food and habitat to a wide range of marine species.

Tidal mud flats, sandbars, and oyster bars commonly occur in salt marshes. In many instances, this is where birders are likely to see the birds of the area since they are prime feeding sites for the wading birds and their allies.

Black needle rush and smooth cordgrass are the two most abundant plants of the salt marsh. Generally, the two species grow in distinctly zones. Smooth cordgrass occurs in a monospecific ban close to the open waters of the numerous tidal channels common is Florida's salt marshes. Black needle rush, which also grows in single species stands, is the dominant high marsh plant. It is the most common type of salt marsh in Florida accounting for close to two thirds of the total marsh acreage in the state.

There are significant stands of salt marsh along the Gulf coast around the major bay systems in the panhandle. The most extensive area is in the Big Bend region. With essentially zero wave energy, marshes grow to the water's edge. South of the Hernando-Pasco county line through Florida Bay, the salt marshes that exist are usually black needle rush marshes. They occur primarily in the high marsh zone landward of mangrove forests. Atlantic coast salt marshes are concentrated in northeast Florida and along the Indian River Lagoon area from roughly Daytona Beach to West Palm Beach.


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