Saltmarsh
Saltmarsh areas are characterised by a mosaic of salt or clay pans, marine couch, samphires and sedges and are found in flat areas which are subject to regular but infrequent tidal flooding. Some of the common species of saltmarsh vegetation found around Hays Inlet include the samphires Bead weed (Sarcocornia quinqueflora), Grey Samphire (Tecticornia australasica), Glasswort (Tecticornia species) and Seablite (Suaeda australis) as well as many species of sedges and grasses including extensive pastures of Marine Couch (Sporobolus virginicus). Another plant associated with the sediment in saltmarsh is Algae and it can often form large algal mats on the surface. The maximum height of this vegetation usually ranges between 10 and 30 cm. Saltmarsh areas are often devoid of any shrubs or trees except along the occasional gutter or creek where mangroves can establish themselves. The conservation of these habitats is becoming critical due to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change.  Saltmarsh provides habitat for many invertebrate species including gastropods, insects, crustaceans and during high tide provides an important food source for many fish including Gobies, Perchlets and Toadfish as well as juveniles of commercial species including Yellowfin Bream (Acanthopagrus australis), Whiting (Sillago maculata), Mullet (Mugil cephalus) Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) and the River Garfish (Hyporhampus regularis ardelio). Saltmarsh is also an important habitat for commercial species of crustaceans including Mud Crabs, Bay and Banana Prawns. Apart from fish production and biodiversity, saltmarsh is also filters runoff and is a significant agent of storing carbon.

 

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