Value of the Salt Marsh
A salt marsh means different things to different people, and its continued existence can be controversial. To some it is a foul-smelling eyesore, and a dangerous bog infested with mosquitoes. To others a filled in marsh represents a monetary profit from real estate development. To still others, and their numbers are increasing, the salt marsh is recognized for what it is - a dynamic ecosystem of great value and importance.
The plant matter of a salt marsh interacting with water and sunlight starts a food chain - from simple invertebrates to man - that is vital to life. In production of food per acre, it greatly surpasses even the best corn fields of Iowa. Clams, oysters, shrimp, flounder, and striped bass are only a few of the more commercial items directly dependent on the salt marshes. Many young fish live in the tidal creeks until they mature and many fish come into the salt marsh to spawn. Salt marshes are also nature's rain barrels - vast sponges absorbing water that if not contained might otherwise cause great flood damage.