This week we are stepping away from the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail and exploring beautiful mangrove trees and forests found along 1,800 miles of coastline in the Florida Keys as well as other parts of Florida.
The mangrove is a tree and shrub that has adapted overtime to living in saltwater environments containing soils lower in oxygen. We are aware of about 80 species of mangrove trees currently in existence! The mangrove tree is found in slower moving waters that allow fine sediments to build up over time.
Mangrove trees and shrubs develop into mangrove forests overtime, growing only in tropical and subtropical climates. A mangrove tree is unable to survive in freezing temperatures.
At first glance, the roots of a mangrove tree appear to be a tangled mess, but they must grow and develop this way in order to survive daily tidal patterns. The mangrove root is also an effective tool for slowing tidal water movement, which allows sediments to settle out of the water and build up a muddy base for the forest.
The mangrove forest is beneficial to its surrounding environment in that it helps stabilize coastlines, and reduce erosion occurring from natural causes such as storm surges, currents and waves.
A mangrove forest is a host for several smaller species of fish that use the forest for food and shelter from their predators.
The mangrove trees you are most likely to see in the Florida Keys are the red mangrove, black mangrove, and white mangrove. What species of mangrove trees have you seen?
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