Have you ever started learning about something, and then you think you got it all? Well, that is not the case with mangroves. There is so much more the know about these incredible trees.
Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans), and the White Mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), but wait, there is one more the Green Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus).
I know, just when we got the three mangroves down, there’s another added to the family!
Honestly, while learning just a little bit about mangroves through the Florida Master Naturalist courses, I really never thought I would be so intrigued and fascinated by a tree, especially in the coastal areas. Granted, I am a longleaf pine’s biggest fan along with sandhill and cypress dome habitats; the coastal regions didn’t pull me in until I began learning more about them on my own. The mangroves did me in. Why? Because of everything that surrounds them. That is why they are called a keystone species, just like the gopher tortoise. They provide a source of shelter or food for hundreds of wildlife species.
Let me remind you that some of us learning to learn for whatever reason may tend to see things differently at first. We are not in an environment of the subject we are learning about hours-days-weeks on end, so grasping and absorbing that information can very well take longer. But while those are learning, it’s an amazing feeling and changes so much about how they view nature.
While I was learning, I thought the mangroves grew at different elevation levels. Like red mangroves were at this level, black was at another level, kind of like an angular staircase going from a low-level stage and upward. Well, that thought was all wrong. All three mangroves can thrive in one area. I mention that sweet spot in the previous article at Walls Springs Park in Palm Harbor; I also found another one in Crystal River.
Since I do not have a kayak or boat, I have to seek those land-based areas. Fort Island Gulf Beach Fishing Pier, West Fort Island Trail, in Crystal River is not only an incredibly scenic drive but another convenient and easily accessible area to study and photograph mangroves.
While I am on the search for the Green Buttonwood, the next upcoming articles I will be focusing on are
- Birds of the Estuaries and the best ways to photograph them
- What is above and below the Mangroves
Have fun exploring, and be safe!
I have found a couple more links that may be of interest and provide more insight into mangroves’ importance to Florida’s ecosystems.
Mangroves – Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Mangroves for coastal defense- Nature.org
Mangroves– U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service