Saltmarsh is made up of different plants that can survive in the constantly changing conditions, each within their own zone.
These amazing plants can cope with saltwater and freshwater, with pounding from wind and waves, shifting mud and with changes in weather from heavy rain to hot sunshine. The saltmarsh provides a place for the estuary’s birds to feed, nest and rest when the tide is in and the marsh helps us too by providing a buffer from coastal flooding and erosion. It also draws in carbon from the atmosphere and binds it into the sediment so helping us in the battle against climate change.
When we lose saltmarsh through development or sea level rise that carbon is released again so it is very important that we give it a chance to thrive.
One of the most interesting and often overlooked habitats of the Western Yar estuary is the mud, which is full of life and supports the entire ecosystem.
The mud is packed full of tiny creatures such as marine worms, tiny snails (hydrobia) and shellfish. This is not very easy to see though as lots of the creatures emerge when the mud is covered with water. Some graze the surface and others live within it, catching morsels of food on their feathery gills and hiding deep in the mud when disturbed. They help to keep the estuary healthy by filtering the water and are food themselves for the larger creatures such as fish and birds.