"Beach Wrack" refers to the piles of seagrasses, reeds and marine algae that wash ashore and are found in the tide line, especially after storms. These marine castaways foster protective dunes and allow assembly of a unique natural community that brings life to the beach. Beach wrack is important to our shorelines for a number of reasons.
After landing on dry land, beach wrack becomes host to a diverse cast of insects and other tiny invertebrate animals, such as jumping beach hoppers, which are harmless rice-sized crutideline. The tiny animals, in turn, serve as food for many other creatures.
Migrating shorebirds fly thousands of miles each year to munch on the nutritious meals found in that clump of seaweed. Wrack also provides a safe haven for many animals that escape predators by hiding under it or by blending in with it. A shorebird can “disappear” while napping among the similarly colored shades of seaweed browns and grays.
Beach wrack also is critical to the health of the dunes by providing plant nutrients and stabilizing windblown sand. The wrack carries seeds from many dune plants, such as beach morning glory and sea rocket. As sand builds up and the seeds within the beach wrack take root, new dunes grow.
On some beaches, the sand is machine-raked, new dunes are manicured away and the wrack is removed. These efforts cost taxpayers, but there is a price paid by the beach system as well. A natural wrack line is a key component of a healthy beach ecosystem.
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