After the breach:
With the breach of the levee bank on May 9th, 2016 the flooding regime of Mutton Cove has changed and this will bring changes to the vegetation. Previously flows were governed by the pipes that fed the creek. Now the breach has created a new channel that boosts flows to the creek and into the Reserve.
With the saltmarsh being inundated more regularly, and for longer, saltmarsh will decline and mangroves more likely to spread.
Before the breach in May 2016:
Mutton Cove was the only small remnant of the huge salt marsh and sand dune habitat that stretched north from Port Adelaide.
Before the embankment was built in the 1970s, Mutton Cove was an ecotone between the main mangrove forest along the foreshore and the intertidal saltmarsh and dune areas backing the mangroves.
Now mangroves and saltmarshes grow on land above the low tide level and within the reach of the highest high tides. Some areas are wet at least twice a day, while others are only flooded once a month.
This transect, by Peri Coleman, shows some of the plants found at different water heights from subtidal (on left) to above high water:
Mangroves occur where the tide floods in at least once every day. Salt marshes grow on the higher land above the mangroves. Mangroves and salt marshes act as wetlands, cleaning water that passes through them and stabilising the coastline. Clear seawater flows out of the mangrove forest, supporting sea grass meadows in the waters offshore.
Saltmarsh are described as the diminutive cousins of mangroves and there are a variety of them at Mutton Cove of different colours and heights.
The Barker Inlet and Port River estuary contains one of the largest southern colonies of mangroves in Australia. Grey mangrove is the only species of mangrove that occurs this far south of the equator.
Spring flowers 2015: