Coastal saltmarsh works completed to protect marine sanctuary
The Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board and National Parks and Wildlife Service SA have combined forces to protect land-based habitats buffering the Cowleds Landing Marine Sanctuary Zone and at the same time, enhance visitor experience to key areas at Eight-Mile Creek and Murripi Beach.
The improvements will provide visitors to the Cowleds Landing Marine Sanctuary Zone near Whyalla, with clearer access to popular beach areas with works on new signage and delineated parking areas now complete.
It’s a fragile environment that hosts important interactions between land and sea, says Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board’s Whyalla Landscape Officer, Barbara Murphy.
“What happens on the land has a direct impact on what happens in the gulf with mangrove saltmarsh habitat providing an important buffer and nursery habitat for many species including prawns, as well as supporting ecosystem functions and marine food webs,” Ms Murphy says.
“It’s a really popular area for dog walkers and for visitors to enjoy but cars can easily get bogged if the wrong track is taken so we’ve improved signage and installed vegetation barriers to help define vehicle tracks. This not only helps to protect people’s vehicles but also fragile front dunes and saltmarsh that can easily be damaged.
“We have worked with the community over many years to raise the profile of this area and we hope the works that have now been completed will help visitors to understand and appreciate what’s there, and help us to look after it for generations to come.”
The range of works undertaken include improved signage at the turn off to Eight-Mile Creek, vegetation barriers to define parking areas and protect the environment, track rationalisation and ripping of compacted areas to encourage regeneration, and replanting vegetation.
National Parks and Wildlife Service SA Senior Ranger Lana Roediger explains that the start of the sanctuary zone lies 5 kilometres south of Whyalla, extends approximately 15 km along the shoreline, and 3.5 km out to sea.
“The sanctuary zone’s close proximity to Whyalla means it receives many visitors by boat and shore,” Ms Roediger says.
“‘Educational and no fishing signs have also been installed to inform visitors of the habitat types, biodiversity values and sanctuary zone regulations.
“We hope all visitors to the sanctuary zone appreciate the enhancements to the area and respect the work that has been done to protect the marine and saltmarsh environment that are critical to supporting marine life, lifestyles and livelihoods in the upper Spencer Gulf.”
The Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park protects habitat for a high diversity of marine species, including important foraging grounds for shorebirds.
Tidal movements carry many forms of epiphytic algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, invertebrates, and crustaceans including the larvae of crabs released in mass spawning events from the saltmarsh out to the marine park. These inputs feed commercially and recreationally important marine species such as whiting, garfish, blue swimmer crabs, squid and western king prawns.
The works were made possible through the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board’s Saltmarsh Threat Abatement and Recovery Project, funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, and also supported by National Parks and Wildlife Service SA, the Whyalla City Council, Spencer Gulf King Prawns and local schools.
Still to come are two exciting new virtual guide walking trails for Eight-Mile Creek and Murrippi Beach that are in development with council for release next year.
For the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board: Katrina Phelps, Communications and Engagement Officer, 0488 005 880 or katrina.phelps@.sa.gov.au.
Media queries for National Parks and Wildlife Service SA: DEW Media, Steve Johansson, Media Manager, DLDEWMedia@sa.gov.au