If you ever find yourself near the shorelines around the equator, you might see for yourself some of the most interesting plants to ever be found on this earth. These trees are very distinguishable and look like a tangle of roots growing out of the water. This unique looking tree is called a mangrove tree. They are the only trees living in these brackish conditions and have evolved to thrive on the twice daily floods of the ocean. With only ocean water to grow on, these plants have learned to filter out almost 90% of the salt in the water. The excess salt is excreted onto their leaves giving them a salty taste, or stored in the bark that then chips away. When their regular seeding material of mud can be found, they sometimes grow on sand, peat, or even coral rocks. Even in such conditions, they can grow to be 60 meters tall and strong enough to withstand hurricanes and other ocean born storms.
With such resilience, these trees create new ecosystems that could never have been there before, providing homes for many different flora and fauna. The tangle of roots provide a very nice home for amphibians and fish alike to nest, lay eggs, and eat other eggs. Many fish species have evolved to be reliant on the mangrove forest and rely upon them like mangrove jacks, barracudas, seahorses, mangrove stingrays, and mudskippers. The lush arboreal habitats created by this forest also provide a sanctuary for many aquatic birds like kingfishers and herons.
Unfortunately, mangrove trees worldwide are under attack. Agriculture and fish farming have already destroyed a third of these trees worldwide and it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon. Conservation efforts in the media have mainly been focused on animals, but we sometimes forget that we need to preserve the environments in which the animals rely upon to survive. Do your part to help save mangrove trees and help these animals keep their homes.
Daniel (June, 2022)