Living on the Sea Bottom
Below the waters of the sound, out of normal sight and reach for us on land, is the sea bottom. The bottom isn’t just the same everywhere - in can be rocky, sandy, or muddy, and sometimes it is covered with thick growths of seaweed. It also varies from very shallow to relatively deep, over 100 feet in some spots. In some areas there may be a strong current or it could be very still. Many animals make their home here, from lobsters and crabs, to flounder and skate. Some animals, such as worms and clams, even live buried down below the sediments. The bottom of the sound is also where bacteria do the critical task of recycling the nutrients that come from decaying organic matter, freeing it up for renewed use by living things.
A Winter Flounder slowly swims along the bottom of Salem Sound.
Learn about the importance of the water column from NOAA’s NMFS Ecology of the Northeast Continental Shelf Toward an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, courtesy of Michael Fogarty (1mb PDF)