Mangrove Swamps
Inch in a Pinch
"Hi! By now you should know thatInch in a Pinch Caterpillar
my name is Inch in a Pinch. On this part of our journey we will be learning about Mangrove Swamps. Doesn't that sound like an exotic place? I've asked one of my more exotic friends to fill us in about this habitat area. His name is Slim Chance. He's a snake. He says that unless we help save the Mangrove Swamps, there's only a slim chance that he will survive either. Let's give him a listen. I think he has some very important things to say."
Slim Chance
"I'm so excited about the possibilitySlim Chance Snake
of saving my home, I can't stop wiggling!! I guess you can tell I'm pretty new to these parts. My Mom says I'm a quick learner and boy, do I want to share what I've learned with you! Everyone, here in the Mangrove swamp, is depending on me to convince you that this is one of the neatest places on earth. I feel very proud that they trust me to do this. Let's get going. First, I want you to learn exactly what the Mangrove Swamp habitat area is like. Read through the stuff below and when you're finished we'll take a look at the plants and animals that live here. I'm gonna' read it, too! I know there's things I can learn. See you in a little bit!" 


Description
Mangrove Sunset Mangrove Swamp
"If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea."
   
Bullet Mangrove swamps are found along tropical seacoasts on both sides of the equator. They are named for the Mangrove trees that grow there. Mangrove swamps, to most people, look like muddy, swampy places filled with mosquitoes, snakes and spiders. Actually, they are a forest community that bridges the gap between land and sea. Mangroves are found along muddy estuaries of large rivers, and in sheltered intertidal coastal settings that include lagoons, bays, tidal creeks and inlets.
   
  Mangrove Roots
Mangrove Root System
Bullet Mangrove trees stand in mud on roots that look like stilts above water that contains a high degree of salt. This tangle of roots can be divided into three types:
 
  • the radiating cable roots with their tangle of anchor roots provide support against the ocean's strong waves and tides
  • little nutritive roots grow up out from the main cable root and feed on the rich soil just below the mud's surface
  • the third type of root collects oxygen for the plant.
   
Bullet
Mangrove root systems provide a filtering system for run-off from the guts of our islands, allowing the sediments to be removed before entering open water. This sediment would otherwise cover and kill coral reef colonies. The mangrove swamp is regularly inundated with salty seawater, but the trees are never fully submerged. With each high tide, the soil surface is covered and the soil often becomes waterlogged. The soil may also be shifted by the waves. Mangroves at high tide
Mangroves At High Tide
   
Bullet Mangrove swamps protect the land from soil erosion and the effects of storms. They also act as a form of pollution control, naturally filtering out industrial and human waste. Mangrove swamps, like other wetlands, are important components of the water cycle, absorbing excess water flow during times of flooding.
   
Bullet Mangrove swamps serve important functions:
  • they provide food, nesting and nursery areas for many animals which include at least 220 fish species, 24 reptile and amphibian species, 18 mammal species and 181 bird species. The dead leaves and twigs in the water grow microorganisms that provide food for young marine animals.
  • they protect the coastline by acting as wave breaks. They stabilise coastlines, promote coastal accretion and serve as natural barriers against torrential storms. In this way, they preserve the coastline and prevent shoreline erosion.
  • they trap debris, sediments, excess nutrients and toxicants through their natural filtering processes. This improves the water quality of tidal rivers that drain through mangroves.
  • they act as wind breaks which reduce the force of winds that may destroy and damage property.
 
Bullet The term "mangrove" refers both to the many species of salt tolerant trees which may be found in a mangrove swamp, and to the actual area in which these salt tolerant trees are dominant.
   
Bullet Mangrove species reproduce by producing flowers and rely on pollination by bees and insects. After pollination, the seed remains on the parent tree. It germinates and grows roots before dislodging. It then has a better chance of establishing itself in the sediment before getting swept away by outgoing tides. Many mangrove species release their seed inside a capsule. The capsule floats and is deposited in a location where it germinates and sends out its shoots and then becomes a new mangrove tree.
   
Bullet There is a belief that the increasing floods in Bangladesh are due to loss of mangroves in the past few decades and there is not much disagreement regarding this view in the scientific community.
   
Bullet Mangrove Swamps offer mankind many benefits, including, but not limited to:
  • Mangroves are extremely important for supporting the fisheries industry which generates a high amount of revenue.
  • Mangroves are a rich source of timber which can be harvested on a sustainable basis.
  • Other mangrove products are also used, including the harvesting of mangrove plants for a wide range of medicinal uses.
  • Some mangrove animals, like the proboscis monkeys of Borneo with their unusual noses, are tourist attractions and thus generate income.
Slim Chance Snake"After reading that description, I realize this place is even better than I thought! The plants and animals are just as exotic as the area itself. Boy, you're going to love this!! Here they are - the plants and animals found in Mangrove Swamps!!
Link to Animal PageLink to Plant Page
"Aren't they incredible? I am so proudSlim Chance Snake
to be part of that group! The Mangrove Swamp habitat areas are in trouble. Next, you'll find out why they are in danger of being lost. This is where the 'convincing part' of my job starts. I sure hope I can convince you to help. I know you won't help, if you don't know what's wrong. Please make sure you understand what's happening here in the Mangrove Swamp. Oh, in case you have any questions, I have a friend who is willing to answer them. Just click on the link below and email your questions to him." 
Research Department {short description of image}
 
Reasons for Habitat Destruction
Bullet Mangrove forests are lost when they are torn up, filled in and dug under for other purposes such as agriculture, aquaculture and other development activities.
   
Bullet People often wrongly perceive Mangroves as unsightly and want them removed so as to enhance the environment. Mangroves then often become garbage dumps.
   
Bullet Pollution adversely affects Mangrove Swamps. Pollution degrades the quality of the plantlife and the water in the swamp, which in turn adversely affects the insects and animasls that also live there. The roots of the mangroves can become easily clogged with man-made sediments and petroleum as well as from other pollution.
   
Bullet Mangrove Swamps often are mistakenly thought to be breeding grounds for mosquitos and either flooded with insecticides or filled in with dirt hoping to prevent a mosquito infestation..
   
Bullet Pruned mangroves grow fewer prop roots and fruit and this in turn provides a lower quality habitat. Pruning also diminishes shoreline protection and reduces the number of bird species using this habitat.
   
Bullet Mangroves are vulnerable to oil spills because oil floats into these swamps and strands among the roots and sediments, killing and damaging trees and fauna, and persisting in sediments afterwards.
Slim Chance Snake"Now for my grand finale!! Here are some things I want you to do to help the Mangrove Swamp habitat areas and their inhabitats (that's me!). We'll help you as much as we can. Truth is, there's not much we can do. It's really all up to you!"
 
What You Can Do To Help
Bullet Every time another house is built; a bigger shopping mall goes up; or another parking lot is paved, wildlife habitat is lost! Become aware of all new building proposals in your area. Voice your disapproval of any that threaten wildlife habitat. You can do this in a number of ways, two of which are: 1) attend town meetings and clearly and respectfully voice your objections and 2) vote out of office those politicians who do not support the environment or wildlife.
   
Bullet Learn all you can about the importance of Mangrove Swamps. Teach others what you have learned. Be sure to impress ipon others how important Mangrove Swamps are to biodiversity on Earth! Help others see the real beauty of this unique habitat area.
   
Bullet Buying organically grown vegetables, flour or meat reduces the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, which, in turn lessens the pollution killing the Mangrove Swamps.
   
Bullet Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products to avoid polluting water. If your local market does not carry these, ask the manager to start.
   
Bullet Dispose of oils, chemicals and old batteries at your local collection site. This will ensure that they are disposed of properly and will not end up in a Mangrove Swamp, if you live near one, or in your local river or stream that eventually will pass through a wetland area on its way to the sea.
   
Bullet Use less water. Try doing the following:
  • Turn the water off while brushing your teeth
  • Repair Leaks. A small leak of one (1) drop per second wastes 2,400 gallons of water per year! Most leaks are easy to detect and easy to repair with some basic know-how and a few simple tools.
  • Install Water Saving Devices. There are many devices that you can either buy inexpensively such as aerators (to mix air with water), flow regulators (to reduce water flow), and displacement devices (to reduce the amount of water in older toilet tanks). Make sure the water-saving device is installed properly.
Bullet Using less petroleum products will mean less oil transportation thus resulting in less oil spills. Drive less in order to lessen your gasoline consumption. Carpool whenever possible. Better yet, bicycle or walk to work! It's healthier.
"By the way, I hope you like to Slim Chance Snake
color as much as I do! There's a picture of the Mangrove Swamp habitat area to color, if you'd like to. I wonder where I put my crayons? I'll ask my Mom. She'll know! Bye for now!"
Inch in a Pinch Caterpillar"See, I told you this place is exotic. Do you like Slim Chance? I think he's terrific! I sure hope you are writing down all these things that you can do to help. With so many habitat areas and so many things to do in each area, I sure wouldn't want you to forget any of them. If you think you might need to revisit any of the areas we've already been to, please do! Click on the link below and then click on any of the postcards of a habitat we've already visited. Please, choose one of the ideas above and begin doing it today! We haven't much time left to save the Mangrove Swamps!"
 
For more information about Mangrove Swamps, please visit:
Manzanar Project
The Role Of Mangroves in the Marine Environment
Mangrove Swamps
The Department of Fisheries Malaysia Marine Education Kit

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