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Wetland Types

Wetlands come in many "flavors" and each type has a unique set of characteristics. In this section, we have compiled the types of wetlands, based on salinity and tidal characteristics, that are found in Delaware.

Salt and brackish marshes cover Delaware’s coast from the upper margins of Delaware Bay south to the Inland Bays. Flooded twice daily by tidal waters carrying salt water from the ocean and bay, these habitats are strongly influenced by salinity - becoming less salty the further up bay, river and stream. Dense stands of Spartina grasses characterize the treeless landscape. A more varied flora and fauna can be found as the water becomes less salty.

Salt marsh

Salt Marsh

Flooded Coast
Salt marshes provide crucial protection from the impact of coastal storms and floods

Salt Marshes 

Salt marshes provide critical nursery habitat for fish and shellfish, vital resting areas for migratory waterfowl and wading birds, and protect us from impacts of coastal storms and floods. Historically, many coastal marshes were drained or ditched for agriculture or mosquito control. Restoring tidal flow is a key restoration focus.

Unexplained vegetation dieback is a current concern. This sudden wetland dieback has mainly impacted saltmarsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) and appears as brown vegetation. As the cordgrass deteriorates, the mudflats that usually support the plants become exposed. Rapid death of marsh grasses is cause for concern because these plants hold sediments and organic materials together. Without living plant communities rapid erosion and marsh losses can occur. The cause is unknown, however, scientists predict that it is an interaction of several human induced stresses including sea level rise and climate change.

 NEXT: Freshwater Tidal Marshes 


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