Mangroves: Why are they so important?

When we went to South Lido Key Park, I got to see Mangrove tunnels for the first time. Growing up surrounded by woodland, I’ve always loved forests, and I’ve always had a fondness for marine life. Seeing the merging of the two in a unique ecosystem was fascinating, and I needed to learn more.

IMG_1678

Over a third of the mangrove tunnels in existence have been destroyed between 1980 and today, and they continue to disappear due to human encroachment through things like coastal development and fish farming. The destruction of the environment in general is a significant issue, but what are mangroves exactly, and what makes them important?

Let’s take the mangrove forests at South Lido Key Park as an example. There, you can find three main species of mangrove trees: Red, Black and White. There are over 50 species throughout the world. These plants have adapted to the loose, wet, sandy soil of the coastline, and can thrive in salt water, unlike most plants. While that’s definitely an achievement, what’s even more impressive is the wide number of things that the forests provide. They are extremely important for being used as nurseries for young crustaceans and fish, where they can grow safe from predators. The mangroves also serve as shelter for other many inhabitants. They are a great place to find multiple species of birds, such as herons, ospreys and egrets, and in the water you could find Sea stars, urchins, crabs, stingrays, and a variety of other species. The mangroves are also a safe haven for manatees.

cmiccick_mangroves

The mangroves provide important nutrients for the marine ecosystem surrounding them, as well as act as a barrier to hurricanes, flood water, and coastal erosion.  And of course, they provide us with wood, fruit, medicine, seafood, and fibers. Most surprisingly, however, is how much they help with air quality. They can store as much as five times the amount of carbon that any other forests can – even tropical rainforests.

Mangroves have a lot to offer – but they’re disappearing. With effort and care we can conserve what we have left and help this unique ecosystem thrive.

 

-Catrina Miccicke

Further Reading:

Mangrove Tunnels – Lido Key

Mangroves in the Mist

Photo Credit: Catrina Miccicke

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Mangroves: Why are they so important?

  1. Going to see those mangroves for the first time was truly exciting! I have been surrounded by the woods my entire life so being able to see something so unique was definitely a surprise! Mangroves that have lived for such a long time seem to have their own aura you know? I have made it a must to go kayaking through them sometime!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s