Mangroves are trees that amazingly thrive in salt water. They do this by having “aerial roots” that rise above the water surface and can get rid of the extra salt in the seawater they drink.
Australia has 37 species of mangrove, which is around half of all mangrove species found worldwide. Moreton Bay Marine Park has 8 species. The mangroves in Moreton Bay form extensive and biologically diverse ecosystems. The dense root systems of mangrove forests trap sediments flowing down rivers and off the land. By filtering out sediments, the forests protect coral reefs and seagrass meadows from being smothered. Mangroves also protect shorelines from being eroded by storm surges.
Mangrove forests play an active role in nutrient recycling and provide nurseries for juvenile fish, crabs and prawns. Scientists estimate that 75% of the commercially caught fish and prawns in Queensland spend at least some part of their life cycle living in the mangroves. In Moreton Bay Marine Park, mangroves occupy around 15,300 ha.
In the past mangrove forests were cleared to make room for agricultural land, industrial areas, human settlements and infrastructure such as harbours, ports and airports. Mangroves are also vulnerable to pesticides, oil spills, sediment disturbance and people trampling on or near their habitat.
- Try and use natural cleaning products in your home (eg bi-carb soda and vinegar) to reduce nutrients and chemicals going into the bay.
- When walking in mangrove habitats avoid stepping on the roots of mangroves.
- You can also get involved with monitoring the health of mangroves by participating in Mangrove Watch - a monitoring program that partners mangrove scientists and community participants. Find out more at www.mangrovewatch.org.au