East Beach ~ Barrier Beach

Physical Characteristics

Many of us escape to the beach to relax. We are soothed by the rhythm of the waves as we sit in our beach chairs sipping lemonade. In reality though, the barrier beach is a dynamic, high-energy environment where organisms must make many adaptations in order to survive.

What keeps the sand on the dunes from blowing away?

Plants are what hold the sand in place and keep the dunes from blowing away. Plants such as beach grass have extensive root (rhizome) systems that form a network below the surface. This network of roots anchors or stabilizes the sand (see photo). The leaves and stems that grows above the sand acts like a trap to collect the blowing sand. When sand collects in moderate amounts around the base of beach grass, the plant is actually stimulated to grow! This pillow of sand also keeps young plants from drying out.