ABOUT BEACH HABITATS
Beaches not only provide us with a lot of fun but are also home to many animals. If you keep your eyes peeled when you are at a beach you can spot crabs, mussels, birds, starfish and if you are lucky sea turtle eggs!
Beaches protect us from large waves and storms as the sand and dunes act as a barrier. Sometimes, the sand can disappear- a process called erosion. But this is a natural cycle meaning that waves transport the sand out but eventually bring it back as conditions change.
Near beaches you will also usually find another type of habitat- mangroves! Mangroves are essentially trees growing in the edge of the ocean. As mangrove trees grow in water, they have special roots that grow upwards called pneumatophores. These act as snorkels so the trees can 'breathe'!
The mangrove habitat works to protect the beaches from erosion. The mangrove roots and broken down leaves help strengthen the sand grains so they can stick together. But sadly, we have already lost half of the worlds mangroves.
When we don't have mangroves, beaches suffer as erosion continues. Human activity also speeds up erosion. For example, when we build houses right on the beach, the sand grains lose the ability to be packed tightly together. When sand is loose, it gets easily carried away by wind or water. Lost sand means that things like rubbish can make it's way easier into our oceans!
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 crabs crawling around.
Fiddler crabs are easily recognizable as the males have one large claw but the females have the same, small-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!