The colorful salt marshes that are located between land and bodies of saltwater have their own coastal ecosystem. Often marshes spread out over vast areas with tidal creeks twisting and turning in all directions.
A large portion of the back side of Fripp Island is bordered by a salt marsh – a harsh environment where few plants can survive. However, it has a special beauty of its own, changing color with the movement of the sun and varying temperatures and seasons throughout the year.
The marshes are flooded by high tides twice a day. This is an important process in delivering sediments, nutrients and water to the marsh. The most common grass in Fripp’s salt marshes is cordgrass, officially known as Spartina. It provides protection for many animals and young fish. Highly tolerant of salt, cord grass grows in dense clusters and sometimes reaches five feet tall.
Salt marshes, along with creeks and inlets, form an estuary where seawater mingles with fresh water from coastal rivers and runoff from the surrounding uplands. Estuaries provide habitat for a large number of organisms, serve as a nursery for fish and a home to birds, and the banks are often lined with oyster shells.