Nature's coast guards

Barrier islands aren’t just for beach vacations — they protect coasts from storms and flooding

By Jennifer Weeks, 11:43 AM August 16, 2013

Many long, thin offshore ribbons of sandy dry land hug coasts along the Gulf of Mexico and mid-Atlantic United States. Called barrier islands, these spits of land run parallel to the coast, like walls.

 

The United States has more than 400 barrier islands. That’s the most of any country. More than 1.4 million Americans live on barrier islands. Millions more visit them, especially in summer. Some barrier islands are famous for their vacation resorts, such as Fire Island in New York; Long Beach I...

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