I had no clue what a mangrove forest was until it looked like it was going to be part of our kayaking route for the day. Then, of course, I was extremely interested.
I’d like to believe that every shoreline in the world the ocean is met with stunning limestone cliffs like in Thailand, or with a plush white sandy beach like in Siesta Key, but that’s simply not true. A lot of shorelines in tropical and subtropical climates are met with trees and shrubs called mangroves.
Mangrove forests look like nothing special from far away, just shrubs with nondescript green leaves, but once you’re close enough to a forest you can see their tangle of roots gives them a distinct look, making it seem like their standing on stilts above the water.
The complex filtration system of the roots of mangrove trees gives them the unique ability to thrive in quickly changing weather patterns of Florida’s coastline. Whereas, the roots of a typical tree are not equipped to handle the daily rise and fall of the ocean tides.
The changing tides also mean that the depth of mangroves can range from being extremely shallow to much deeper depending on the time of day. Most of our kayaking trip through the mangroves in Placida, Florida was in water no deeper than 3 feet. Which makes the prospect of tipping your kayak not nearly as scary.
These unique trees and shrubs are not only gorgeous and extremely interesting for the average science nerd, but they also form the habitat for dozens and dozens of species of birds, snakes, crabs, and other critters who call the mangroves home.
These trees and shrubs may not seem like much, but mangroves are said to have some of the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on the entire planet. Mangroves play such an important role to the Florida coast that the State Government has mangrove conservation efforts, and strict laws against any kind of trimming or use of pesticides around or near the plants.