- Mangroves-the Ecosystem
Mangroves provide ideal breeding grounds for much of the world's fish, shrimp, crabs, and other shellfish. Many fish species, such as barracuda, tarpon, and snook, find shelter among the mangrove roots as juveniles, head out to forage in the seagrass beds as they grow, and move into the open ocean as adults. An estimated 75 percent of commercially caught fish spend some time in the mangroves or depend on food webs that can be traced back to these coastal forests.
They also provide habitat for thousands of species at all levels of marine and forest food webs, from bacteria to barnacles to Bengal tigers. The trees birds also take cover in the dense branches, making it ideal spots for birding. These coastal forests are prime nesting and resting sites for hundreds of shorebirds and migratory bird species, including kingfishers, herons, and egrets. Crab-eating macaque monkeys, fishing cats, and giant monitor lizards hunt among the mangroves, along with endangered species such as olive Ridley turtles, white breasted sea eagles, tree climbing fish, proboscis monkeys, and dugongs. And the soft soil beneath mangrove roots enables burrowing species such as snails and clams to lie in wait. Other species, such as crabs and shrimp, forage in the fertile mud.
The tons of leaves that fall from each acre of mangrove forest every year are the basis of an incredibly productive food web. As the leaves decay, they provide nutrients for invertebrates and algae. These in turn feed many small organisms, such as birds, sponges, worms, anemones, jellyfish, shrimp, and young fishes. Tides also circulate nutrients among mudflats, estuaries, and coral reefs, thus feeding species like oysters that rest on the seabed. Theyprotect both the saltwater and the freshwater ecosystems they straddle. The mangroves' complex root systems filter nitrates and phosphates that rivers and streams carry to the sea. They also keep seawater from encroaching on inland waterways. The roots collect the silt and sediment that tides carry in and rivers carry out towards the sea. By holding the soil in place, the trees stabilize shorelines against erosion. Seedlings that take root on sandbars help stabilize the sandbars over time and may eventually create small islands.
The thickets of mangroves that buttress tidal mudflats also provide a buffer zone that protects the land from wind and wave damage. Places where mangroves have been cut down for shrimp farms are far more vulnerable to destructive cyclones and tidal waves.hTese forests provide many of the resources upon which coastal people depend for their survival and livelihood. At low tide, people can walk across the tidal flats to collect clams, shellfish, and shrimp. At high tide, fish move in to feed among the protection of mangrove roots, turning the marshy land into rich fishing grounds. The mangrove trees themselves provide fuel, medicines, tannins, and wood for building houses and boats . Visit sine-saloum and enjoy nature's beauty.