“The Salt-Loving Plant’’
Why Mangroves are Important …
• Mangroves provide habitat (food, shelter, air and water) and a nursery for many important estuarine creatures. Approximately 90% of our commercial seafood and 70% of local game fish spend some part of their lives in a mangrove wetland. The roots of the mangroves provide protection for numerous species, such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, oysters, shrimp, crabs and mollusks. Above the water, mangroves serve as rookeries for water birds, such as brown pelicans, roseate spoonbills, and several egret and heron species. They provide a resting place for birds of prey, song birds and migratory birds as they travel the Atlantic flyway.
• Mangroves produce food. As mangrove leaves fall, bacteria and fungi begin to turn the leaves into a rich source of food known as detritus within hours. Worms, shrimp, crabs, mullet and many other animals feed off the detritus. This results in a concentration of prey items for predators who are looking for these invertebrates and herbivorous fish.
• Mangroves enhance the quality of our local waters by trapping and cycling pollutants, filtering sediments and absorbing excessive nutrients resulting from storm water runoff.
• Mangroves help stabilize our local shores from erosion during storms. The roots of the mangroves help trap sediment and keep the shoreline intact. They act as a buffer, reducing storm surge and high wind.
• Mangroves provide approx. 50% of Florida’s oxygen.
Mangrove survival is in our hands.
Mangroves are a vital part of our local salt marsh ecosystem. They have been removed extensively for development, and pollution and freezes have taken their toll. It is estimated that 85% have been lost since the 1940’s.They are federally protected today, and cannot be trimmed or removed without a permit.
Here are a few ways you can help:
Increase the green – Increase the natural areas on your property by removing impervious surfaces (concrete and asphalt) and replacing them with surfaces that will allow rainwater to filter into the aquifer. This will decrease the amount of pollutants that enter into our local waters.
Support projects that maintain natural shorelines as opposed to sea walls and other forms of hard armoring. A natural shoreline will contain both mangrove and oyster communities. These communities will serve as a natural defense against erosion and help increase biological diversity in our local waters.
Get involved in local Mangrove planting and Invasive Species removal projects held throughout the year.
Help spread the word. Whether you’re a fisherman, boater or passerby, all of us depend on a healthy mangrove ecosystem here in Volusia County.