Education

Coastal Habitats

Salt Marshes

How does a salt marsh grow?

Salt Marsh

Salt marshes line the landward side of Texas' inner bays with cordgrass, saltgrass and other plants able to live in brackish water. Animals here must also tolerate the constant changes in water level and saltiness brought to the salt marsh by tides and freshwater inflow.

These marshes form when salt-tolerant plants take root on mud flats around the edges of bays. The plants slow the flow of water during hightide, allowing sediments to settle out and raising the level of the land so more plants can grow.

An essential link in the system

Graphic showing inland river, salt marsh along coastline and coastal bay

Marshes act as biological filters where pollutants from freshwater runoff can settle out before reaching the Gulf.

Salt marshes are a vital part of the coastal ecosystem. Together with wetlands, marshes act as biological filters where pollutants from freshwater runoff can settle out before reaching the Gulf.

Decaying vegetation from the marsh provides adjoining bays with food from many small marine animals. These, in turn, are food for fish, mammals and birds. Marshes also serve as spawning grounds and nursery for marine animals including blue crabs and red drum.

Plant Life on the Salt Marsh

Animal Life on the Salt Marsh


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