Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations

A blackwater river from sea to source · By Dirk Frankenberg

Salt marsh along the flanks of the high salinity section

Figure 7. Salt marsh along the flanks of the high salinity section (Photograph by the author. More about the photograph)

Figure 7 shows us where the salt marshes are located in this high-salinity section of the White Oak estuary. Marshes develop mostly along the banks of tributary creeks. Here, you see the creek’s mouth facing into the main portion of the estuary and the marshes both along the sides and in the middle of the creek.

This marsh is dominated by two species of plant. The island is composed of salt marsh cord grass (Spartina alterniflora). This is the only marsh plant we have seen in the marshes examined so far in this trip. In the foreground of figure 7, however, you see another plant. This is not a grass, but a rush, known by the common name of black needle rush and by the scientific names Juncus roemarianus. Juncus cannot tolerate regular immersion in salt water, so it lives only at elevations that are irregularly flooded, such as this area of the creek bank.

Definitions

salinity n.
A measurement of how much salt in is in a solution; also called saltiness or brininess.
estuary n.
The mouth of a river where it meets the sea, and where freshwater from the river mixes with the salty water of the sea. [more]
tributary n.
A stream that flows into a larger stream or other body of water.