Intertidal Flats

The intertidal flats associated with costal mangrove forests are made up of a series of channels and banks of sediment. These mudflats and banks are made up of very fine particles and detritus (organic matter).  The flats also receive nutrients from the surrounding mangrove forest, saltmarsh and coastal bushland. The input of detrital matter from the wetlands along with the proliferation of various algae provides a foundation for a wide variety of invertebrate grazers and scavengers.

Invertebrate grazers and scavengers provides prey for other organisms including significant numbers of wader birds who use their long beaks to probe and forage through the sediments.  These birds are active at low tide when most of the invertebrates have buried themselves into the sand or returned to their burrows to await the next tidal inundation.  When the tide is in, the wader birds retreat to the surrounding wetland vegetation to wait for the next low tide.

With the incoming tide another set of predators move in to take advantage of the intertidal flats and even make their way into the mangrove forest. Schools of the Common Toadfish move in with the leading edge of the tide making sure they are the first to take advantage of any detritus or invertebrates which have been unable to find safety beneath sediments.  Other organisms which come to take advantage of the incoming tide include juvenile fish, prawns and other crustaceans.  Once the tide turns a number of larger predators including stingrays, Shovel Nosed Sharks, Flathead, Whiting and Bream set themselves up to take advantage of the smaller predators. However, it’s not all about predation, herbivores such as fish including Hardy Heads, Mullet and Garfish move in with the tide to feed on algae.

 

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