Extending between the sinuous mangrove lined creeks and the distant higher ground, these shimmering flats are coated by a dusting of dry salt, baked onto the seemingly deserted clay surface. None but the very highest tides, a few times a month, spread onto these flats. With super heated brine for soil water, only very specialized organisms can live here. Scattered chenopods, like the jelly bean bush Suaeda arbusculoides, store water in their bulbous leaves and burrowing crabs make little lids for their burrows to maintain humidity. Some of the plants here, like the ruby saltbush Enchyleana tomentosa, also live on salt lakes in arid central Australia.
Come the wet season, and this sizzling gray hotplate is quenched with a rich soup of filamentous blue-green algae, diatoms and bacteria, enough to feed the many tonnes of invertebrates and fish awaiting its eventual transport downstream.