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General sketch-map of a tidal plain, showing the typical tripartition in supratidal, intertidal and subtidal zones. The most apparent character of the area is the development of tidal channels, affecting mainly the intertidal zone. In this case, the tidal flat is protected seaward by a beach barrier, but in many cases (low-energy waves and longshore currents) the tidal flats may directly pass into a shallow marine environment.

Mudflats or mud flats, also known as tidal flats, are coastal wetlands that form when mud is deposited by tides or rivers. They are found in sheltered areas such as bays, bayous, lagoons, and estuaries. Mudflats may be viewed geologically as exposed layers of bay mud, resulting from deposition of estuarine silts, clays and marine animal detritus. Most of the sediment within a mudflat is within the intertidal zone, and thus the flat is submerged and exposed approximately twice daily.

In the past tidal flats were considered unhealthy, economically unimportant areas and were often dredged and developed into agricultural land.[1] Several especially shallow mudflat areas, such as the Wadden Sea, are now popular among those practising the sport of mudflat hiking.

On the Baltic Sea coast of Germany in places, mudflats are exposed not by tidal action, but by wind-action driving water away from the shallows into the sea. These wind-affected mudflats are called windwatts in German.


Mudflats near Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealand

Tidal flats, along with intertidal salt marshes and mangrove forests, are important ecosystems.[2] They usually support a large population of wildlife, and are a key habitat that allows tens of millions of migratory shorebirds to migrate from breeding sites in the northern hemisphere to non-breeding areas in the southern hemisphere. They are often of vital importance to migratory birds, as well as certain species of crabs,[3] mollusks and fish.[4] In the United Kingdom mudflats have been classified as a Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat.

The maintenance of mudflats is important in preventing coastal erosion. However, mudflats worldwide are under threat from predicted sea level rises, land claims for development, dredging due to shipping purposes, and chemical pollution. In some parts of the world, such as East and South-East Asia, mudflats have been reclaimed for aquaculture, agriculture, and industrial development. For example, around the Yellow Sea region of East Asia, more than 65% of mudflats have been destroyed over the past 50 years.[5][6]


Mudflat sediment deposits are focused into the intertidal zone which is composed of a barren zone, marsh and salt pan. Within these areas are various ratios of sand and mud that make up the sedimentary layers.[7] The associated growth of coastal sediment deposits can be attributed to rates of subsidence along with rates of deposition (example: silt transported via river) and changes in sea level.[7]

Barren zones extend from the lowest portion of the intertidal zone to the marsh areas. Beginning in close proximity to the tidal bars, sand dominated layers are prominent and become increasingly muddy throughout the tidal channels. Common bedding types include laminated sand, ripple bedding, and bay mud. Bioturbation also has a strong presence in barren zones.

Marshes contain an abundance of herbaceous plants while the sediment layers consist of thin sand and mud layers. Mudcracks are a common as well as wavy bedding planes.[7] Marshes are also the origins of coal/peat layers because of the abundant decaying plant life.[7]

Salt pans can be distinguished in that they contain thinly laminated layers of clayey silt. The main source of the silt comes from rivers. Dried up mud along with wind erosion forms silt dunes. When flooding, rain or tides come in, the dried sediment is then re-distributed.[7]

Selected example areas[edit]

Mudflats in Brewster, Massachusetts, United States, extending hundreds of yards offshore at the low tide. The line of seashells in the foreground indicates the high-water mark.
Gulls feeding on mudflats in Skagit Bay, Washington.


  1. ^ Dredging Indian River Lagoon Wetlands 1920 - 1950s
  2. ^ Tidal flat habitats
  3. ^ Mud crab (Scylla serrata) culture in tidal flats with existing mangroves
  4. ^ Manko - Tidal Flat, Mangrove Forest
  5. ^ MacKinnon, J.; Verkuil, Y.I.; Murray, N.J. (2012), IUCN situation analysis on East and Southeast Asian intertidal habitats, with particular reference to the Yellow Sea (including the Bohai Sea), Occasional Paper of the IUCN Species Survival Commission No. 47, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN, p. 70, ISBN 9782831712550 
  6. ^ Murray, N.J.; Clemens, R.S.; Phinn, S.R.; Possingham, H.P.; Fuller, R.A. (2014), "Tracking the rapid loss of tidal wetlands in the Yellow Sea", Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12 (5): 267–272, doi:10.1890/130260 /
  7. ^ a b c d e Reineck, H.E, and I.B Singh, Deposistional Sedimentary Environments, 2nd Ed. New York: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 1980, pp. 418-428

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudflat — Please support Wikipedia.
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19982 videos foundNext > 

The Return of Superman - Experiencing the Mud Flat at Jebudo

The Return of Superman - Experiencing the Mud Flat at Jebudo] - For more info: http://kbsworld.kbs.co.kr/programs/programs_intro.html?no=728 ---------------...

Invincible Youth 2 | 청춘불패 2 - Ep.2 : Surviving at the mudflat!

Surviving at the mudflat! Spcial mission, catch octopus~ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Subscribe KBS W...

(Korean Culture 100) Mudflats, a Beautiful Ocean Field Created by Humans and Nature_한국의 갯벌

Mudflats, a Beautiful Ocean Field Created by Humans and Nature Part 1. Watercolor Picture of Time Painted on Mud The morning sun shines on the calm mudflats....

Mud Flat

Mud Flat Jopon Released on: 2015-01-27 Author: A. Torresani Author: R. Bisca Composer: A. Torresani Composer: R. Bisca Music Publisher: KALAMBUR PUBLISHING Auto-generated by YouTube.

Mudflat Mysteries

What goes on beneath that broad glassy surface while the water's in? Find out with this underwater time-lapse of the marine mudflats!

Fooling around in the mudflat

Pull on my wellies and explore a bit in the mudflat.

Bottlenose Dolphin: Mudflat Hunting

In a strange hunting technique, Bottlenose Dolphins in Georgia and South Carolina waters not only drive fish ashore but throw themselves onto land to collect...

00098 - tidal mud flats (part 4) : back to the mud pit ! (the much edited version)

The (much awaited ?) part 4 of the tidal mud flats mud pit series... Now whenever you see a transition (little square fuzzy thing) material has been shameful...

UK: A lucky escape! Watch firefighters rescue teens stuck in mudflat

Two girls were rescued after they were sucked into mudflats and were unable to move as the high tide fast approached on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, Sunday. ...

Mud mate trashing trackies in mudflat

Mate having fun in trackies and trainers in this mudflat.

19982 videos foundNext > 

717 news items

Bay Nature

Bay Nature
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:03:45 -0800

In a way they would compress a whole range of habitat types that would otherwise be lost—from mudflat to marsh to upland—into a much smaller space. A couple of prototypes of horizontal-style levees incorporating transition zones have been built in ...

Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Daily Star
Sat, 24 Jan 2015 22:49:55 -0800

An American pipit walked on a mudflat next to a tamarisk. A green heron — “the American Birding Association's bird of the year,” Halsey observed — preened on the base of a small island near a dead tamarisk. An immature black crowned night heron stood ...

Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Daily Star
Sat, 24 Jan 2015 21:05:28 -0800

An American pipit walked on a mudflat next to a tamarisk. A green heron — “the American Birding Association's bird of the year,” Halsey observed — preened on the base of a small island near a dead tamarisk. An immature black crowned night heron stood ...

Springfield News-Leader

Springfield News-Leader
Wed, 31 Dec 2014 14:23:11 -0800

Claim to fame: Dunlins are one of several types of shorebirds that can be seen on Ozarks mudflat areas in fall and winter. This starling-sized bird spend its spring and summer months in its breeding and nesting range in the Arctic and sub-Arctic ...

Hilton Head Island Packet

Hilton Head Island Packet
Sun, 11 Jan 2015 08:06:31 -0800

After seeing ducks and American coots in high numbers along the wildlife loop, we were then treated to hundreds of sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs and avocets in a tidal mudflat along U.S. 17 in Jasper County. We pulled over and watched for nearly a half ...

U-T San Diego

U-T San Diego
Sun, 11 Jan 2015 06:00:36 -0800

Starting Saturday, San Diegans can crawl through a mudflat and camp out in an Airstream trailer at the San Diego Natural History Museum's new, 8,000 square foot exhibit “Coast to Cactus.” The exhibit explores the vast diversity of the region's ...

Bellingham Herald

Bellingham Herald
Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0700

The Mudflat Walkers, featuring singer Matney Cook, hosts an all-ages CD release party for the band's new recording, “Sky Valley High,” at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, at Bellingham Circus Guild's Cirq Lab, 1401 Sixth St. The evening includes food vendors ...
Fri, 09 Jan 2015 00:19:36 -0800

Union Slough was created through a dike breach in the Snohomish River estuary in 2001, creating approximately 8 acres of marsh and mudflat habitat. Extensive and diverse saltmarsh vegetation has appeared and spread naturally at the site since 2001, but ...

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