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Gulf of Mexico Tidal Wetlands

A Photo Gallery of Florida's Big Bend Tidal Wetlands

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Ellen Raabe

Marsh Environments: Coastal Hammocks, Oyster Bars, and Salt Barrens

The marsh is dotted with tree islands of coastal forest, commonly called hammocks. These hammocks have little tolerance for salt and grow only where the elevation is high enough to prevent flooding during high tides. The most common tree species on a coastal hammock are sabal palm (Sabal palmetto), red cedar (Juniperus silicicola), pine (Pinus elliottii), and live oak (Quercus virginiana).

coastal hammock
Coastal Forest

Oyster bars develop across tidal creeks, contributing to changes in tidal flow and the deposition of sediments. They also form a substrate used by other plant and animal species. Oysters prefer a low-energy tidal setting with regular freshwater flow from surface runoff.

oyster bar
Oyster bar
salt barren
Salt barren

Salt barrens form above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW), just beyond the reach of the highest high tides in the high marsh. Only occasional storm-driven high tides flood the salt barren. Salts accumulate here because there is not enough flushing to wash the salts away. Only the most salt-tolerant plants such as pickleweed and glassworts grow in a salt barren.

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Coastal and Marine Geology Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Gulf of Mexico Tidal Wetlands > Photo Gallery > Hammocks, Oyster Bars, & Salt Barrens

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Updated January 04, 2013 @ 10:28 AM (THF)