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Dunes do a lot!

PATRICK AFB, Fla. --      Right off of the beach are large mounds of sand known as dunes.
     Dunes form as the wind carries sand from the beach in a landward direction as far as it can before it is blocked by an obstruction of some sort.
     Though they happen naturally, dunes play a vital role in stabilizing coastal habitat.
     Dunes are the key defense for the coast during storms. They absorb energy of the storm waves and provide sand to the beach, which is helpful during periods of erosion.
     Dunes are also helpful to animals. Dunes, along with their vegetation, provide food and shelter for numerous animals and shorebirds. Many of these animals are endangered species.
     The Patrick AFB beaches are globally important as nesting grounds for three types of sea turtles all of which are either endangered or threatened species.
     From spring to early summer, sea turtles arrive here from the sea to dig nests in the sand and dunes to lay their eggs. Shorebirds like the Least Tern also use the dunes for their eggs. They nest in the dunes which help their eggs to be camouflaged. Loss or damage to the dune environment would harm theses species.
     Vegetation plays a major role in dune stability and growth. It is also vital to the survival of many species. It is up to us to ensure that we do not alter the environment of the dune or dune life.
     "Human activities that would negatively affect dune vegetation, such as walking through dunes instead of in established crossovers, physically removing the vegetation, allowing pets to trample through vegetation, or leaving trash on the beach or in the water, are prohibited on the Patrick AFB beaches," said Eva Long, Biological Scientist, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron.