The Mangrove Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda) appears to use its tongue to lure its fish prey. The ‘luring tongue flicks’ were longer in duration than the normal ones, involved curling, and were only observed when the snakes were foraging for prey. This behavior has also been documented in Aquatic Garter Snakes (Thamnophis atratus) although they did not engage in the strange curling.

Hansknecht, K. (2008) Lingual Luring by Mangrove Saltmarsh Snakes (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda). Journal of Herpetology 42(1) 9–15

Degraded Saltmarsh, Empire Bay, Central Coast, NSW.

It isn’t only the direct impacts of urbanisation, through the reclaiming of estuarine wetlands for residential and industrial developments, that is threatening coastal saltmarsh habitats along the east coast of Australia. The proximity of these urban environments results in some indirect impacts as well. This photo taken a few years ago on the Central Coast shows the impacts of motor bike riders on saltmarsh habitats. This area of saltmarsh was located close to a boatramp where bike riders (and occasionally 4WD) had easy access. As well as damaging the saltmarsh plants, the wheel ruts subsequently became “hot spots” of mosquito breeding. The densities of saltmarsh mosquitoes, particularly the vector species Aedes vigilax, were always higher in the wheeel ruts than other pools and depressions.

There is a number of options available to reduce these risks. Educating the community and constructing barriers are obvious ones but it is surprising to see how innovative bike riders/4WD can be to cut through or get around barriers.

You can read the vehicle access policy of NPWS in NSW here but there has also been some work conducted on how mountain bike access to national parks is being managed and you can read about it here.

Constructed saltmarsh. Long Jetty, Wyong. -33.364 / +151.475.

Coastal saltmarsh is an endangered ecological community protected by state environmental protection legislation. While major saltmarsh rehabilitation projects are underway throughout the state, there are also projects involved in constructing new areas of saltmarsh. This photo is from the early planting stages of a small area of saltmarsh at Wyong on the Central Coast. For more information on Wyong Councils environmental programs, visit their website.