Each year, harsh winter weather erodes sand from beaches and dunes and deposits it in off shore sand bars. The receding beaches can sometimes reveal the remains of old shipwrecks, another reminder of Assateague’s sometimes treacherous and unpredictable weather. Beach-dwellers, such as ghost crabs (Ocypode quadrata)
, are compelled to seek refuge from the waves in back-dune areas during these turbulent months. In summer, gentler wave action helps to replenish the beaches and dunes that have been stripped. Throughout the year, winds carrying salt spray blow across the island producing a natural pruning effect on trees and shrubs.