Mangrove: what’s all the fuss about it

Filed under: Things to know - by Louise Hennessy

It’s time to come clean. Before we happened upon the coasts of Quintana Roo we had never actually heard the word, “mangrove”, let alone did we know what it was, so if you find yourself in the same situation, allow us to enlighten you…

Have you ever seen the shrubs, or small trees which line a lagoon or swamp area?  The ones that grow leaving their roots underwater? Well, there you have it. Mangrove trees/shrubs basically grow in saline water, along coastal regions, as they are “saline resistant”. At first glance, the branches of such trees may seem extremely dry and brittle, having the relentless sun beating down upon them day in day out, but in actual fact mangrove bark is the next thing to being indestructible, providing not only a sturdy source of this raw material, but also constituting a firm barrier against the battering winds and waves caused by natural phenomena such as hurricanes and tropical storms.

mangrove

True, this is something we could have perhaps deduced by the fact that this vegetation tends to remain intact even during the worst bouts of weather. However, we were amazed to discover how vital the mangrove is with regard to different forms of marine life, providing shelter for young fish until such time as they are strong enough to brave the world, as well as being a zone where many fish reproduce. If that were not enough, the abundance of organic matter produced by mangrove shrubs provides essential nutrients for all kinds of creatures, such as the wonderful, and rarely seen, manatee.

What’s more, and to our enormous benefit, the complex system of mangrove roots plays the silent role of a natural ‘filter’, by unbelievably retaining pollutants such as toxic metals and keeping them at arm’s length from our shores. Just what have we done to deserve such kind treatment?

manglar

All in all, there’s a pretty good case for making fuss about the mangrove, and for keeping it intact. And even more so for visiting (without touching it, of course!). You never quite know what you will encounter in and amongst the water-based vegetation; whether it be a generous helping of tiny starfish, curious baby fish, or if you are in luck, a manatee!

Consult your concierge for more information on areas rich in mangrove…

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