Today, July 26, 2020 is the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems. This celebration of the value of mangrove ecosystems was started in 1995 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Mangroves grow in the subtropics and tropics throughout the world. There are 54 mangrove species in 20 genera from 16 different plant families. Mangroves are plants that bear live young (vivipary), have special adaptions to deal with salt, and grow naturally only in salty locales (fidelity).
Florida is home to 3 species of mangroves: Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle), black mangroves (Avicennia germimans), and white mangroves (Laguncularia racemosa).
Mangroves are primary producers, the basis of the web of life in the Indian River Lagoon, along with seagrasses. Fallen mangrove leaves which decay (detritus) “feed” our multi-million dollar commercial & recreational fisheries.
Mangroves stabilize the shoreline. The tangled prop roots of the red mangrove, the prominent breathing tubes of the black mangrove, and the extensive underground roots of the white mangrove protect the shoreline from erosion and stabilize bottom sediments.
Mangroves improve water quality, absorbing and filtering excess nutrients and pollutants carried by stormwater runoff.
Mangrove forests combat climate change, moving carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into long-term storage in greater quantities than other forests.
Mangroves are a source of high-quality honey. A European honeybee (Apis mollifier) is shown above visiting the flowers of black mangrove.
They bring a special beauty to our coastal wetlands, too.