The Modesty of the Mangroves

These resilient mangrove biomes help preserve coastal areas while also providing safe environments for a multitude of species to flourish!

Rhizophora mangle "Red Mangroves" aerial view - Key Largo, FL 01/26/22

Watch our latest Youtube video as we navigate through the tangles of the "Red Mangroves" to take a closer look at these magnificent forests in Key Largo, FL.

An important feature of these unique forests to note first is and foremost is their resilience to salty coastal waters. Unlike other trees, mangroves have adapted to grow in brackish and salt waters.ê Wikipedia explains,

"Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions. They contain a complex salt filtration system and a complex root system to cope with saltwater immersion and wave action. They are adapted to the low-oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud..."

We enjoyed seeing large schools of fish maneuver through the tangle of root systems as we paddled through the mangrove forest. I spotted a crab climbing along some arial roots and it turns out it was a "Mangrove Tree Crab," or Aratus pisonii, which feeds on the mangrove leaves.


Another group of animals that benefit from the mangrove forests are birds. We spotted our first Great White Heron here in the mangroves of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, not to be confused with the more common White Egret. Having trouble distinguishing these two? Here is a great article discussing the distinctions by our favorite: The Cornell Lab.


According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, here is a list of the values and functions of mangroves:

  • Mangroves trap and cycle various organic materials, chemical elements, and important nutrients in the coastal ecosystem.

  • Mangroves provide one of the basic food chain resources for marine organisms.

  • Mangroves provide physical habitat and nursery grounds for a wide variety of marine organisms, many of which have important recreational or commercial value.

  • Mangroves serve as storm buffers by reducing wind and wave action in shallow shoreline areas.

 

Sources:


Florida Department of Environmental Protection - 'What is a Mangrove?'


Wikipedia - 'Mangroves'





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