CRITICAL CAPE COD HABITATS
Salt marshes are the most dominant coastal wetland on Cape Cod. They occur behind barrier beaches and within estuarine systems and are divided into two major zones; the low marsh and the high marsh. Low marshes are flooded twice daily and the high marsh is flooded once a month. Plants that exist in these zones are determined by their saltwater tolerance. Driven by the tides, salt marshes are feeding grounds for numerous marine species. They also function as nurseries for over two-thirds of the commercially important fisheries. Salt marshes are being impacted by residential development. Below is an example of a salt marsh habitat.
Smith’s Dock Sanctuary: located in West Barnstable on the Great Marsh and protected by Orenda Wildlife Land trust in 1998. These five acres are home to threatened Northern Diamondback Terrapin Turtle.
Austin Smith Sanctuary: Protected by Orenda Wildlife Land Trust located in Orleans and Eastham
Plants that exist in salt marshes:
- Saltwater cordgrass (dominates low marsh)
- Saltmeadow cordgrass (dominates high marsh)
Fish that exist in salt marshes:
- Finfish Crabs