Nature film exposes secrets of the salt marsh
09 September 2018
The launch of a new nature film this week in celebration of Seaweek titled ‘Secrets of the samphire’ is set to highlight the role the often-misunderstood coastal saltmarsh habitats play in supporting local livelihoods and lifestyles, particularly recreational fishing and some of our largest fishing industries.
Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula, Marine Parks Coordinator Dr Shelley Paull said the locally made film, along with the newly published native flora field guide ‘Samphires of Eyre Peninsula ’, provides people with resources to satisfy their curiosity and develop a deeper understanding of saltmarshes.
“We recently hosted five guided tours of saltmarshes at Whyalla, Cowell, Arno Bay, Tumby Bay, Tulka and Streaky Bay with researcher and author Peri Coleman, and they were well attended by 120 tourists and locals,” Shelley said.
“Some were a little apprehensive at first about getting their feet muddy, but once they had learnt a bit about this amazing and undervalued habitat, they were hooked.
“There’s strong demand to understand these ecosystems better, and once you start hearing about the role they play in storing more carbon than a rainforest, and seeing firsthand how they filter fresh and salt water, provide natural barriers to waves and erosion, and how important they are as breeding and nursery grounds for marine species such as juvenile king prawns, it’s easy to turn into a fan of samphires.”
The guided tour of the Arno Bay saltmarsh was also well attended. Natural Resources EP Ranger Elouise Schultz said tourists from the local caravan park were pleased to meet other locals and take a closer look at the native salt-loving plants.
“At Arno Bay we have one of the few remaining populations of nationally-threatened Bead samphire (Tecticornia flabelliformis), which is very special and unique in itself,” Elouise said.
“The Arno Bay boardwalk allows visitors to take in the estuary, mangroves and samphires from a ‘birds eye view’.
“We were able to see many crab holes and identify a number of different crab species. Peri Coleman shared how the crabs use the saltmarsh as an important breeding (spawning) area, releasing baby crabs.
“When the tide comes in numerous fish come in to feed on the crabs and by the time the tide turns the majority of those fish have doubled their body weight. It’s like a buffet fish party in the saltmarsh at times.”
Eyre Peninsula has 17 known species of samphire, with one new species recently identified by Peri Coleman and Barb Murphy during fieldwork.
Collect a free copy of the ‘Samphires of Eyre Peninsula’ field guide by calling into your local Natural Resources EP Office. To view the film visit www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ep/coast-and-marine/marine-parks
Secrets of the Saltmarsh, Eyre Peninsula
Communications and Engagement Officer