Mississippi Gulf Coast: A Tour of the Beach Ecosystem for the Senses

sea oat ms gulf coast may 9

The ecosystem of the beach is a beautiful array of sand, sea oats, birds, and other wildlife. There is a symbiotic relationship with each segment of this small society. Walking the beaches the sand and sea oats appear to blend together to form a safe haven from the wind, waves, and storms that come into the ecosystem each day.

It is nurturing to the soul to walk the beach and become a part of this ecosystem. With the senses of sight, touch, and smell it is easy to become a part of this beautiful world.

This small ecosystem along with the small islands along the coastline act as a barrier to impending danger for the residents of coastal towns. Without this protection many coastal areas would be enveloped in the hurricanes and other natural occurrences of our living Mother Earth.

We begin our tour of this ecosystem by using our sense of sight. Walking along the beach it is easy to observe the sand on the beach and the sea oats that grow within it. Sea oats are a type of grass that keeps the sand from being taken back into the sea. It is calming to watch to grains sway back and forth in the wind.

The sand sparkles as the sun beams down on the shells and fine white particles that make up the beach. There are coastal birds scurrying along the beach searching for food. A few of these birds are landing on the beach and taking a moment to appreciate the moment.

The water from the Gulf of Mexico is slowly lapping onto the beach after turning from the small waves. The water is bringing in small treasures from the gulf. There are shells from marine life that are no longer in use. The shells come in many shapes and sizes and can be picked up to be used in art or just to be admired. Others are left to return to the gulf so that they may be used by other marine life.

Our next sense to be used on this tour is smell. The Gulf of Mexico has a salty smell that immediately captures your attention. In the early mornings this smell is fresh as the coastal winds cool the early morning air.

When we pause for a moment and focus there is also the smell of the morning meals being prepared around us. In this particular area there are several restaurants open for breakfast. The aroma of a variety of foods combines and presents the most pleasant smell.

The next sense used on our tour is touch. Reaching into the sand and letting the grains filter through our fingers. It has a combination of a course and soft feel. There is a residue left when the sand has filtered through that is a bit sticky. The sand makes you a part of the ecosystem as you walk on it and feel the soft and rough texture. A wonderful sensation for the feet.

We can also pick up and touch the sea shells that are washing to the shore with each wave. Many have rough sharp ends from being tossed and turned in the water. Others are smooth as they have floated through the waters. Each sea shell once served a form of marine life. By touching and feeling these shells we have a sense of how another form of life survives in this beautiful ecosystem.

As we continue our journey into this ecosystem it is now time to turn our attention to the barrier islands. The Mississippi Gulf Coast has several barrier islands that are close enough to observe from the beaches. In the distance we can observe the ships navigating the waters carrying their cargo in and out of the coastal areas.

ms gulf coast barrier island may 9

The barrier islands act as a protector to the beaches and coastal towns from the hurricanes and dangerous waves that could destroy the coastal ecosystem. The islands are composed of large trees, brush, and a beach area. These islands have been a bottle of protection for the shorelines. Some of the islands have served as military forts in times of war.

The barrier islands also act to reduce the amount of salt coming into the gulf. This makes the water fresh as it is fed into the rivers that meet the Gulf of Mexico.

It is time for our tour to end as we return to our daily life. Our journey through this life is enhanced by experiencing the ecosystems of Mother Earth. My soul is nourished and at peace as I leave this place and continue with my journey through life.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce


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  1. Great minds think alike. There is just “something” about the ocean. I love how you took the time to notice everything though your senses. Made me want to be walking with you….and then have breakfast. Nice morning you had.

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