That narrow ribbon of marsh between land and sea is dying. What is killing it is still not fully known. The stress of coastal development, pollution, sea level rise, warming trends and constricted growing area may develop stress related pathogens which rot the marsh grass roots and allow for the hollowing out of the marsh grass roots into coral like forms.
The salt marsh serves as a protective buffer between land and sea, habitat for a range of animals, nursery and fishery and filter of impurities entering into the sea.
Yet for all of it’s utility, few see its beauty. The salt marsh is one of the most fertile zones on earth within the estuary. It stands extremes of temperature, freezing and thawing, saturation and drought. The plants of the salt marsh are uniquely adapted to life on the edge.
For many years I have visited the marsh and relished in its seasonal change of color and pattern. Landscape Mosaics has charted that change over time through aerial surveys and ground level documentation. Now this documentation is needed to determine when the die back began on Cape Cod. This photo-documentation in the form of slides and negatives has to be sorted and reviewed for a timing of the slow death of the salt marsh along our coast and the public has to be alerted for the partial demise of this critical landscape of great value. The color and pattern can be described in scientific terms to denote chemical composition, health, environmental factors, temperature, salinity, water levels and stress. I am pleased to state that Stephen Smith, Ph.D. is uniquely qualified to speak on the science of the coastal landscape and relate the color and pattern change to specific phenomena. The aerial images and studies will speak to the death of the salt marsh along the New England coastline, in what is termed 'salt marsh dieback'. This work by Stephen Smith is critical and cutting edge research. My time line studies of the coast will assist him in determining when the dieback began. Landscape Mosaics is an important and timely call for public participation, understanding and focus on this critical and endangered landscape
Just as the salt marsh is an indicator of the health of the coastal landscape, so too, are the waters of the estuary and the fish that swim through them. There is symbiotic relationship between the salt marsh and the estuary and the health of the fisheries. Years of habitat alteration and disturbance, damming of tidal rivers, sedimentation and pollution have reduced the spawning populations of anadromous fish to record lows. These fish spend their lives at sea and return to their natal freshwater streams to spawn. Fewer smelt, herring and shad migrate back to the waters of harbors, bays and estuaries to their tidal spawning rivers.
My work combines art, science and technology to promote public understanding of critical landscapes and endangered species through environmental advocacy. Work and related experiences may be viewed at
Landscape Mosaics are site specific and are based on direct observation, fieldwork, sampling and color study and simulation. The work is a fusion of art, science and technology. Landscapes are interpreted in a painterly and sculptural way to reflect the pattern, growth and coloration of plants within the landscape mosaic and represent the impacts of tides, oxygenation, topography, nutrient uptake and the seasons within the coastal ecosystem. - Joseph Emmanuel Ingoldsby, 2007

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