ABOUT BEACH HABITATS
Beach habitats are very important areas because they provide habitat for many species including worms, crabs and shorebirds and nesting sites for turtles and also absorb wave energy to protect the land form the ocean's waves.
Beaches erode where the sand is being carried out to the ocean meaning there is less sand on the beach. This is a natural cycle where waves transport sand out, but bring it back as conditions change. However, human activity can interrupt this natural cycle in several ways and have permanent erosion of the beach.
Near beaches you will also usually find another type of habitat- mangroves! Mangroves are essentially trees growing in the edge of the ocean.
When they fall, around 80% of the leaves of mangroves end up in the shallow waters below the trees. These leaves are then eaten by animals or broken down by fungi and bacteria and then eaten by fish. The leaves provide nutrients which are released into the water and the sediment. The roots of the mangrove trees take up these nutrients for further growth.
Erosion is a big threat to both beaches and mangroves. Mangroves help stop erosion by holding the soil together but sadly, we have already lost hald the worlds mangroves. Beaches naturally erode but this process is sped up due to human activity on beaches.
ANIMAL SPOTLIGHT: SEA TURTLES AND FIDDLER CRABS
Sea turtles are amazing beach and ocean animals! There are seven different species of marine turtles (binkin), six of which are found in Queensland waters!
Turtles can live to be over 100 years old, but only start breeding when they are 30-50 years of age, meaning they have a long, slow life cycle and take a long time to make babies.
One of the amazing things about sea turtles is that they travel across enormous areas of the ocean, but when they are ready to lay their eggs they find their way back to the very same beach where they were born!
Fiddler crabs on the other hand are mangrove animals! If you look close enough and wait patiently, you can sometimes see 10's of thousands of fiddler crawling around.
Fiddler crabs are easily recognizable as the males have one large claw but the females have the same sized claws. The crabs used their claws to dig burrows which they live in. That's why you can see holes in the sand near mangroves!