Oceans are rising at an alarming rate with future predictions almost impossible to comprehend, let alone plan for. Rising seas have and will further impact coastal communities in multiple ways, including flooding to homes and businesses and salt infiltration into our drinking water, but also can have large impacts on natural ecosystems. Salt marshes, in particular, are at great risk of ‘drowning’ from sea-level-rise.
Great Bay is a place where the ocean and rivers, land and water, and people and nature meet. It lies at the confluence of tidally driven salt water from the Gulf of Maine and fresh water from the Salmon Falls, Cocheco, Bellamy, Oyster, Lamprey, Squamscott, and Winnicut rivers. Before reaching the bay, seawater travels 15 miles inland—a geographic configuration makes Great Bay one of the nation’s most recessed estuaries. It is often referred to as New Hampshire’s “hidden coast.” Because it has such a large tidal exchange and seasonal variation, the salinity in Great Bay can fluctuate quite a bit.
With sea level on the rise, researchers at UNH are looking into the best way to protect our coastal salt marshes. Working in collaboration with Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, researchers are able to implement different techniques to prevent salt marsh erosion due to sea level rise. This post is the first of two, highlighting two graduate students working on salt marsh resiliency and restoration techniques.
Nearly three years ago, Great Bay Stewards board member Laura Byergo came to the group with a challenge. She had been pledged up to $5000 in matching funds toward the rehabilitation of Blanding’s turtle nesting sites. The Stewards rose to the task, obtaining donations from board members, crowdfunding, the Greenland Women’s Club, and Stewards members.
Today, through the hard work of multiple partners, new nesting sites have been created in the Seacoast region and the turtles have begun to arrive.
Every spring for the past 50 years, researchers of estuarine science make their annual migration to a coastal town in New England to share their latest findings. For 3 days, researchers convene to present their work often relating to water quality, seagrasses, salt marshes, fish communities, and invertebrates such as oysters, or to discuss a pressing issue such as rising seas or ocean acidification.
When healthy, sea grasses form dense underwater meadows that provide many benefits to bay organisms and us, including producing great quantities of oxygen that many marine creatures need to thrive, provide excellent physical habitat for young fish and shellfish, improves water quality by absorbing excess nutrients, and increases water clarity by filtering sediments.