We had an absolutely fabulous trip to the salt marsh at Rainbow Haven Beach. The weather was fantastic (the many beach-goers probably wondered why we all had rubber boots on), we had lots of great participants (54!), and Dr. Jeremy Lundholm and Carley enthusiastically answered our many questions.
We started off on in the high marsh area, where Jeremy pointed out Bayberry, a shrub whose berries can be made into candles, and leaves can flavor stews (and it important ecologically too). Next we moved through to the mid-marsh, where participants sampled Glassworth (also called Pickleweed), another edible plant. Salty! And finally it was right into the gooey, wet lower salt marsh itself, where we saw fish, crabs, and algae. We also learned about the plants of the salt marsh that do the important job of keeping soil in place and slowing down sediment. Salt marshes as the “nursaries” for the babies of many fish species, and these fish in turn become the food of many fish species we like to eat.
Some of the salt marshes in Nova Scotia have been degraded or destroyed, and Jeremy and his team work to restore them. We helped out by gathering the seeds of a salt marsh grass, which Jeremy’s lab can use to help restore the plants at another salt marsh site.
Heading out of the marsh, we passed through a dune ecosystem, which had very different soil, which was mostly sand. There were different plants there than in the salt marsh, including Yarrow (the leaves of which can be used as tiny trees in model train scenes).
Finally, we reached the beach, where we saw the very fast flowing river that helps nourish the salt marsh. Now we know that just beyond the towels and sandals of Rainbow Haven Beach lies an amazing and rich ecosystem called a salt marsh!
(You can check out a few more photos from the field trip on our photos page).