Salem Maritime National Historic Site
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  • Aquatic Food Chain


    Aquatic: based in or relating to the water (as opposed to land).

    Terrestrial: describing something of, on, or relating to the land (as opposed to the water).

    Wading birds: birds, typically with long legs, that walk through water to find their food, instead of swimming or diving.

    Audio Transcript

    As you explore the nature trail, notice the Saugus River on the west side of the trail. Is it low tide or high tide? Which direction does the water appear to be flowing?

    In an estuary, there’s a big difference between high and low tide. At low tide, exposed mud and less water creates ideal conditions for some animals, like wading birds, to find food, and a great place for us to explore the food chain.

    As we saw in the terrestrial environment, the food chain starts with a producer. In the Saugus River, algae absorb sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to produce oxygen and glucose sugars for energy. Fish, such as the white sucker, are primary consumers and eat the algae. Secondary consumers, like the great blue heron, eat the white sucker. Decomposers complete the food chain by eating non-living plant and animal remains and recycling their nutrients back into the environment.