Photo courtesy Cathy Thompson, NSB Turtle Trackers
Ocean coastlines are breathtaking networks of plants and animals that work together to survive in an ever-changing ecosystem. The plants and animals living in this harsh environment have adapted to sandy soil, continuous salt spray, exposure to extreme weather events, and the constant ambush of ocean waves, which give way to habitat erosion.
The coastal environment along Florida’s east coast is made up of several hundred barrier islands that are rich with sand dunes. Coastal animals rely on these dunes for protection, shelter, and food. Each animal plays an important role in shaping the landscape. The placement of sea turtle nests near the base of dunes provides vital nutrients for the plants growing there. In return, the dune vegetation reduces erosion and retains the beach elevation needed to allow sea turtle nests to remain safe and dry from potentially devastating wave action.
These natural coastal ecosystems are also important for people living along the coast. Unlike armored beaches, natural beaches lined with sand dunes provide a strong buffer to defend against the damaging effects of strong winds and storm surge by absorbing wave energy.
Please see the forms and links provided below to learn how you can participate in taking care of our coastal environment!
RULES OF GREEN-THUMB AT THE COAST
(information from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection [FDEP])
Wildlife and Habitats (information from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
Coastal Management Program (information from the FDEP)
Building Back the Sand Dunes (information from the FDEP)
Sand fencing guidelines (information from the FDEP)
Seaweed Secrets Solved! [PDF]
The Wrack Community [PDF]