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Saltmarshes

To the naked eye saltmarshes don’t look very pretty, but they are actually one of the most important and productive habitats in Moreton Bay Marine Park, and unfortunately one of the most abused.

A saltmarsh is a complex community of saltwater tolerant plants, no taller than 0.5 metres that live in the harsh environment of the upper tidal zone. Saltmarshes usually grow on the landward side of mangrove forests and many of the plants growing there are not found anywhere else.

Saltmarshes are important areas for small creatures such as worms, shrimps, shellfish, fish, wading birds and wildfowl. They provide breeding and nursery areas for fish, food and nesting sites for waderbirds and wildfowl, and protect shorelines against buffeting storm waves. Many fish feed directly on the detritus carried in runoff from saltmarshes, whilst many others feed on the salt marshes directly during very high tides. Some fish even lay their eggs directly onto saltmarsh plants.

Moreton Bay Marine Park has approximately 2,500 ha of salt marsh. Since 1974, over half (around 3,051 ha) of Moreton’s Bay salt marshes have been lost!

Threats

Salt marshes are under threat from residential and commercial expansion, grazing by livestock, pollution, sea level rise caused by human induced global warming, invasion by urban grasses and damage from recreational use such as dirt-bike riding and cars. Saltmarshes are also often used as dumping grounds because people believe that they are ugly and serve no purpose.

Solutions

Saltmarshes need to be treated with respect in order to conserve them.

  • Don’t dump rubbish, chemicals or other waste in salt marshes.
  • Don’t drive cars and motorbikes on this fragile habitat.
  • Try and use natural cleaning products in your home (eg bi-carb soda and vinegar) to reduce nutrients and chemicals going into the Bay.

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