What Lives in Midden Marsh?

The Winyah Master Naturalist Class of 2024 was put to work on Friday, April 19, to complete the first biological survey of the Midden Marsh area of North Inlet. The goal of the day was to see how many different species they could document using iNaturalist

The Midden Marsh is named for a shell midden located on the edge of one of the tidal creeks. The Reserve uses the area for education and training programs as it is a great demonstration site for a variety of saltmarsh and maritime forest habitats located within walking distance of the BMFL. Having a species list for the area will be a valuable asset for educational programs. 

The Master Naturalists spent the morning traversing the upland forest and marsh areas, looking for plants, invertebrates, birds, insects, mammals, and whatever else they could find. The had sweep nets, dip nets, and sieves, and saw demonstrations of cover boards, pitfall traps, Sherman live traps, and minnow traps. In the afternoon, they examined the catch of researchers from the BMFL who were seining in the creek near Oyster Landing. Although not technically in the Midden Marsh boundary, the creek does drain that marsh area, so it is likely that many of the animals caught had previously been visiting the Midden Marsh.

The naturalists are still working to get their observations uploaded and identified on the iNaturalist project site. So far, 84 species have been documented, mostly plants, and 34% of the observations have reached ‘research grade’. This means that an observation has been reviewed and the iNaturalist community is in agreement on the ID. You can contribute to the bioblitz by visiting the project page and helping to contribute identifications!

The plan is for the BioBlitz survey to become a regular event for the Master Naturalist classes and also to involve public volunteers. The class had many great suggestions for improving the experience, and were even game for expanding it to a 12 hour event to document the early morning and evening species. So stay tuned for future ‘day in the Midden Marsh’ opportunities!

Many thanks to the members of the WMN 2024 class who were such great sports to be my testers for this project. Also, thank you to BMFL-ers Bruce Pfirrmann and Matt Kimball for catching us some fish and providing excellent instruction.