Re-cap: Restoring Virginia’s Sand Dunes

Last week, the Aquarium’s conservation team was out in the field (with more than 100 volunteers!) restoring vital coastal dune habitat in Virginia Beach.

Published May 22, 2015

sand dunes

A healthy dune system is important for ecological and physical reasons. Sand dune vegetation is uniquely adapted to thrive in stressful conditions such as extreme heat, salt spray, drought, limited nutrients and shifting sands. In addition to providing protective habitat and nesting sites, dunes also serve as a physical barrier to the harsh conditions of the sea and act as a reservoir for beach nourishment. 

Since 2007, we have worked with partners at Command Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic, and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center to restore sand dunes on the base and have helped plant more than 320,000 native dune grasses and shrubs to help stabilize the dunes.  Over time, staff and volunteers in the area have observed sea turtles nesting on the beaches and mammals and birds finding refuge in the dunes! 


Being able to engage our visitors in Baltimore and our conservation volunteers in the field in protecting and restoring this habitat is an important part of our mission. Families that have a chance to walk through our new highly-interactive exhibit, Living Seashore, experience a thriving ecosystem that is full of wonder and hidden treasures.  They also get a chance to meet our Shore Heroes; people like you and me that are taking steps in their daily lives to protect this special place. People like the volunteers that planted with us over the weekend.

Want to do something today to help protect our coastal habitats? Become a Shore Hero!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Sidlowski

Mary has been a generous contributor of her time to the National Aquarium since 1992. Although she may have lost count of the number of native grasses she's planted or mailings she's assisted with, her dedication to our mission is never lost on us! Here's to Mary and all of our volunteers...without you, we would truly be lost.

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