Mangrove Forests

Above and Underwater Ecosystem

These communities are dominated by three species, red mangrove, black mangrove, and white mangrove. The roots of these trees are either fully submerged in water, or inundated daily with the tides. Mangrove communities are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world and that is especially true here in the Florida Keys. Mangroves are important habitat for wildlife, above and below the water. The prop roots of the red mangroves are nursery areas to many commercially and recreationally important fin and shellfish species. Above the water, they are critical nesting, resting, and feeding sites for many birds including wading birds, magnificent frigatebirds, white crowned-pigeon, osprey, bald eagles, and resident and migratory songbirds.

Roosting, nesting and feeding birds can be especially sensitive to human disturbance.  Scaring birds off their nests exposes their eggs and babies to predators and intense rays from the sun.  And, like people, birds need undisturbed rest to stay healthy.  Please consider the birds as you are exploring the backcountry, your actions can make a difference in their survival.

5 Simple tips to protect birds: 1) Avoid boating too close to mangrove islands.  A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 300 feet (100 yards) away.  If you want a closer look, use binoculars or telephoto lens.  2) Pleas do not disturb.  Even non-motorized vessels can disturb birds.  If you see birds getting ready to fly or flying off in a flock, you are too close. 3) Know your signs and buoys.  Please follow directions on signs and informational buoys.  Buoys designate no motor areas, speed zones, and closed areas that help protect birds. 4) Pack it in, pack it out.  Dispose of your trash properly, especially fishing line that can ensnare birds, leading to their injury or death.  5) Report injured birds to the refuge, Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC), or local wildlife rehabilitation center.

Facts About Mangrove Forests

Mangroves separate the land from the sea, and they are important protection to wildlife and people from storm surges and hurricanes
They also slow down and filter runoff, keeping water clean and clear