Salt marshes help to sustain life along the coast – including humans. These marshes act as the nursery and food supply for marine fisheries: 75% of marine life spends part of its life there.
Salt water floods marshes and sustains micro algae, bacteria and fungi. In turn, these microorganisms eat the decaying plants and become a source of food for invertebrates such as snails, crabs, amphipods and pill bugs. These small creatures are eaten by many forage fish during high tides, who then become prey for larger fish important to fishermen, both commercial and recreational. Waterfowl, shorebirds and long-legged waders also feed on these forage fish.
Mussels, oysters and clams live buried in the mud of the low marsh. Inhabiting the grasses of the marsh are various insects such as flies, grasshoppers, crickets and spiders. These provide food for various birds. Within the marsh, creeks and ditches provide sheltered habitat for crabs and the diamondback terrapin.