This morning’s offering from News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams pays homage to one of South Florida’s iconic coastal plant varieties: mangroves. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, Florida is home to an estimated 469,000 acres of mangrove forests and this halophyte’s ecological importance simply cannot be overstated.
Aside from trapping and cycling organic materials and nutrients from the water, mangroves provide a protected nursery environment for a variety of fish, crustaceans and shellfish and are a favored food site for many marine species as well. Above the water’s surface, mangrove branches serve as rookeries for coastal birds from roseate spoonbills to brown pelicans. All of these characteristics make a mangrove forest an ideal spot to spend a day exploring the wonders of our region’s coastal environments, as Williams tells us in this week’s essay.