All about saltmarshes

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Saltmarshes are a type of wetland that you can find along the coast, where the land meets the sea. They are called saltmarshes because they are affected by the saltwater as the sea level goes up and down with the tides. Salt marshes are full of special plants that can survive in salty water and soggy soil.

All about saltmarshes map
Map showing the location of saltmarshes (Source: UNEP-WCMC13 dataset)
Where are saltmarshes found?

Salt marshes are found on every continent except Antarctica. They typically occur where rivers meet the sea, like in estuaries and deltas. Significant saltmarshes are found along the Atlantic coast of North America, the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts of Europe, and the coasts of China and Korea.

Why are saltmarshes like superheroes?

Saltmarshes have some amazing superpowers that help protect our coasts and planet. They act as natural flood defences by absorbing and slowing down water during storms and high tides. Saltmarshes also help fight climate change by storing lots of carbon in their soil and plants.

Saltmarshes as animal havens

Saltmarshes provide a home for many different kinds of animals. Birds like herons, egrets, and geese use saltmarshes as a place to rest and find food during their migrations. Fish, shrimp, and crabs also live in saltmarshes, which serve as nurseries for their young.

Saltmarshes under threat

Despite their importance, saltmarshes are under threat in many parts of the world. Development along the coast, pollution, and rising sea levels due to climate change can all damage or destroy saltmarshes. Scientists estimate that we have lost about 50% of the world’s salt marshes in the last 100 years.

All about saltmarshes brent geese Chris Gomersall/Alamy
Pair of dark-bellied brent geese on flooded a saltmarsh at high tide, Norfolk, United Kingdom.
A future for saltmarshes

Many people are working to protect the saltmarshes we still have and to restore those that have been lost. This involves creating new salt marshes, improving water quality, and controlling development along the coast. By taking care of our saltmarshes, we can help ensure a healthier future for our coasts and our planet.

Success stories

People all over the world are working to restore lost saltmarshes and protect the ones we still have. In the United States, there are many projects to restore saltmarshes along the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. In China, the government has started a project to restore over 600,000 hectares of wetlands, including saltmarshes, by 2030.


Science / Geography | Ages 7-11

Ocean & Climate

Ocean & Climate | Science & Geography | Ages 7-11 is a KS2 teacher resource. Based on the work of the Convex Seascape Survey, this unit develops students' understanding of climate change, ocean, and sustainability topics.