Message from the Superintendent
The planning team is currently in the final stages of drafting the General Managment Plan and beginning the internal review process which includes reviews and revisions. More »
Virginia District - Beach Parking Update
Due to Hurricane Sandy and the March 6 storm, there is limited parking in the Virginia District. As of 4/4/13 parking lot 1 and part of parking lot 2 are open. All parking lots are expected to be open by Memorial Day weekend. More »
Hurricane Sandy Photos on flickr
View images from the Maryland and Virginia districts of Assateague Island National Seashore on our flickr site. More »
In the sheltered zone beyond the dunes where fresh water is more plentiful, vegetative cover jumps to 80% and is predominantly characterized by less salt-tolerant shrubs and thickets. Here, taller plants undergo a natural pruning process, as salt winds blowing over the dunes limit their height. Common species in these areas include wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera) and northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), which provide food and cover for songbirds, small rodents, and rabbits. Other species commonly found among the shrub thickets include blackberry (Rubus argutus) and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans).
Where the island is wide enough to allow sufficient protection from the ocean's salt spray and overwash, trees are able to establish a foothold. The forests of Assateague are predominantly pine woodlands, with loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) being the most prevalent tree species. Scrub pine (Pinus virginiana), greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia), and muscadine grape (Vitis rotunifolia) are also common in the forest understory.
On the mainland side of the island adjacent to the bay, one can find large areas of salt marsh dominated by salt marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), a plant that has adapted to periodic flooding by seawater by releasing salt through its leaves. Within the waters of the bay itself, beds of eel grass (Zostera marina)and other submerged aquatic vegetation provide shelter and spawning areas for aquatic animals, while microscopic phytoplankton produces vast amounts of oxygen.
The plant life of Assateague and its surrounding waters mirrors the rich diversity of its habitats, playing a variety of vital roles in the island ecosystem.
Did You Know?
Just like people, seastars eat clams, oysters and mussels! Instead of using tools to open their lunch they pull it apart using tube feet that work like suction cups. Then they push their stomach out of their centrally located mouth and into their prey and liquidate it!