Monday, May 3, 2010

Modern Mangroves

Just a brief picture-y related post, as I try and rise above the clinging busy-ness of the end-o'-the-semester. I was lucky enough to head down to South Florida over the spring break (in late March), and in addition to eating all sorts of delicious shell fish and exotic fruits (sapote! sapodilla!) I also had the chance to see some pretty rad mangroves swamps!

Mangroves, of course, are the utterly kick-ass salinity-tolerating plants that form impressively dense coastal swamps along tropical shorelines. Because they live in environments that are, traditionally, so hostile to plants, these awesome trees have evolved some pretty slick adaptations. They can excrete excess salt from their roots and leaves, which is pretty awesome, and can similarly limit water loss during low-tide exposures. And, from a sedimentological view point, they are also completely amazing sediment baffles, effective at dissipating incoming wave energy and trapping any entrained sediment. Neat-o!

Anyway, the picture below is from Florida bay, and just shows some isolated red mangroves growing out in the shallows. When we came back and mucked around in the mud after low tide, the WHOLE area was just covered in horseshoe crab traces going everywhere (no pictures, sadly...). In the background on the right, you can JUST make out the distopian hellscape that is Miami.

This next picture is from the Everglades, and shows some more Red Mangroves growing along the edge of the brackish water Coot Bay, and were taken as we canoed around the backwaters. Notice the oysters encrusting the mangrove limbs! Neat!

Here's another oyster and mangrove shot!

And, finally, here's some mangrove pneumatophores exposed along the canal access to Coots Bay.

Pretty amazing plants!


memphissigncompany said...

Yep you are right, very cool plants. I used to live in St. Petersburg Florida and there are some very cool trees there. I can't remember the name but these trees grow up and then their roots drop from the limbs and re-connect to the ground and start another tree from that point. they can be 20 yards across of better. what is the name of these trees.

Stephanie R

Anonymous said...

Strangler figs?

"the Dude" said...

What happens when tar balls from BP crude oil gets in the root matrix? What a mess!

Cathy Newman said...

Mangroves are very important! These serve as a shelter of fishes. You know, I'm dreaming of having an adventure trip in a bay, so I can find lots of mangrove. I think I could see lots of creatures there, and learn anything about mangroves.