The Sandy Beach

The Sandy Beach
The sandy beach and surf zones are two environments, which are usually found along the edges of the sea. The sandy shore environment is made up of sand and grains of rock and crushed shells while the surf zone environment is made up mainly of water. Although the sandy beach zone is said to be one of the most common environments along the shore, it is considered a very harsh and dynamic environment. Sandy beach shores usually have very harsh physical conditions. The constant sand movement presents a problem for living organisms. These organisms have nothing to hold on to, and have to either swim or burrow rapidly or else they will be swept away by the water and the sand. They also cannot live on the surface or live in permanent burrow. This is why sandy beaches are hardly populated when compared to other shores. In the sandy beach zone there are approximately 6 to 7 different species. However, although there is little diversity each of these species may be millions in numbers.
The Upper inter-tidal zone consists mainly of dunes trees and crustaceans. This zone has the widest range of heat and cold. Because of this it also presents problems of heat in the summer and problems with freezing for organisms in the winter. The Mid-zone has similar problems with temperature as the upper inter-tidal zone. This zone has more waves and therefore has rapid sand removal during storms. Organisms such as the Pismo clam and spiny mole crab live in this zone. The swash zone is where wave breaking occurs. This zone has the highest water movement but does not have the extreme temperatures, which the other zones have. The organisms that live in the swash zone include the sand crab among others. Despite the harsh conditions, which characterize this environment, sandy beach shores, gives different number of habitats for organisms. Each habitat or zone contains a particular group of organisms living in the zone. For example the upper part of the beach contains a zone of plants such as shrubs, grasses, and trees. A problem, which is often seen in such an environment, is predation. Sandy beaches have no place for an organism to hide or cover from a predator. Crabs, fish and shrimp prey on organisms at high tide and birds usually small animals take over at low tide. Another characteristic of sandy beaches is the uncertainty of food. The major source of food found in a beach is usually food, which is washed to shore. There are mainly three categories of food, which are found on the shore. The first category is called beach wrack, which consists of heaps of kelp, algae, shells, crustaceans, and wood. The second category is sea foam which algae which is crushed by strong waves. The last category of food is small zooplanktons that are washed in with the waves. The surf zone is the region of the sandy beach where there are crashing waves. These waves are white with foam because of the air that gets mixed with the water as the wave hits the shore. The surf zone moves along with the tide back and forth from shore of the beach back to the sea. The sand on the shore is moved around because the water in the surf zone is always in constant motion. Organisms in the surf zone vary from crabs to clams to diatoms. Diatoms are among the populated organisms in the surf zone. Some sandy beach surf-zones in the world have visible patch of discolored water. The gathering of diatom cells into dense patches causes this discoloration. Other organisms include the mole crab and the surf clam that have each adapted to constant motion, which is present in his environment. The mole crab uses its appendages to dig into the sand; there he feeds on organisms, which are microscopic. The shape of the mole crab is also to its benefit. The jelly like shape allows it to swim with little resistance. The surf clam protects itself from the impact the wave and sand erosion using its thick shell. The clam?s large foot also allows it to dig into the sand to avoid predators. The surf and sandy beach zone is a very harsh habitat to live in because of the constant tidal movement brought by waves. Despite this fact it is amazing to see the diversity and amount of organisms that live in these two zones as well as their adaptations to their surroundings.

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