Very few species can withstand the desert-like conditions and high salinity of the ocean-front dune environment. In this setting, wax myrtles pruned by salt spray find protection between the dunes while sea oats and gulf croton colonize the open, shifting sand. Always moving with the changing conditions along the shore, the rearrangement of the actors on this stage has been played out for millions of years. This is a scene common to all the barrier islands along the Atlantic shore of the Southeast, persisting even to some extent between the beach and encroaching seaside development. It is most beautiful when forming a wide transition zone between beach and maritime forest on undeveloped islands.
Here, the evening progresses and the no-see-ums rise from the groundcover as waves break on a submerged sand bar. In the distance, Johnson Creek meets the ocean between Harbor and Hunting Islands. *
* This is an excerpt from Philip's essay appearing in: Bartram’s Living Legacy: Travels and the Nature of the South