About Assateague & Coastal Bays

Assateague Island is a barrier island located off the MidAtlantic coast of two states in the United States of America, Maryland and Virginia.  It is most famous for its wild horses and pristine beach. Situated along the Atlantic flyway, over three hundred species of birds use the island to feed, rest, and nest.

Shaped by wind and water, the barrier island is in a constant state of change.  A barrier island protects the mainland by absorbing storm surges and over wash, creating a dynamic ecosystem.

For a barrier island to thrive, every habitat depends on the other before it.  Succession of habitat creates unique areas where species thrive.  Assateague is made up of beach, dunes, maritime forest, and marsh.  It is home to threatened species such as piping plovers and sea beach amaranth, a critical plant for dune construction.  It is also home to the exotic Sika, a small species of elk native to east Asia.

Behind Assateague are two of the six coastal bays of Maryland.  This important watershed supports thousands of citizens as well as numerous species of wildlife, including nesting birds within the bay islands and over a hundred species of fish.  Both Assateague and the coastal bays are at the frontline of a warming planet as sea level rises.