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Sandy Shores

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Sandy beaches are formed by accumulation of sand particles driven by wind and water currents. The sand grain profile varies from location to location but are always scattered with pebbles, gravels and broken shells. The sandy beach have many physical structures formed due to wave action and wind such as sand flat, sand dunes, sand bar, sand ditches and cusps etc. Sandy beaches are classified on the basis of sand structures formed, wave action, surf zone and the sand grain size. Water filtration and retention capacity depends upon the sand grain size. Sand water holding capacity increases with the decreasing grain size.

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Moon crab and Olive shell doing disappearing act when disturbed


The sandy shore fauna are highly adapted, diverse and ecologically significant group and depends on the sand grain size and compactness of sediment. Due to high energy waves sand substrate tends to change and hence the faunal composition. Some are burrowing, tube dwelling etc. Macro fauna of sandy beach includes molluscs, crustaceans, and polychetes. Meiofauna consist of copepods, harpacticoid and nematodes. Microfauna contain protozoan such as forameniferans and diatoms. 

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 Forameniferans                                                                   Worms

Sandy beaches are very important economically and socially. Sandy shore provides protection against strong wave actions and storms. Increasing human interaction with these areas for either recreational or for developmental purpose is an important cause of disturbance for the biodiversity of sandy shore and pollution of beaches.

Types of Beaches

The formation of various sand structures, sand grain size and interaction of waves on shore leads to different profiles and shapes of sandy beaches. The intertidal fauna varies according to the beach types.

Beaches are generally classified into three major categories based on their shape and vertical profile.

Reflective: Reflective beaches are steeper than intermediate and dissipative beaches. The surf zone is less than 10 m and sand grain size is coarse. Waves have low energy.

Dissipative: Dissipative beaches are broader and flatter. The surf zone is more than 100 m wide and sand grain size is fine .Wave action is strong in this type of beach.

Intermediate: Intermediate beaches have intermediate characters of reflective and dissipative beaches.


Sandy shore fauna
Sand crabs are known make spectacular designs on beaches. Olive, button and screw shells and moon crabs are common inhabitats of sandy beaches. Golden Jackel hunt ghost crabs while several birds feed on burroing worms. Sea turtles use them for egg laying. Some specialized sea slugs inhabit sandy shores.
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Take a walk on the nearby sandy shore and try to note different types of burrowing animals.

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