Shell Crab Speaker Series Highlights Importance of Mangroves | Environment

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February 2, 2024 Conservancy of Southwest Florida biologist Vanessa Booher was Shell Crab’s second speaker of the season. Vanessa started with a quick overview of the types of mangroves found on the Florida Gulf Coast.

The four species of mangroves closest to water are the red mangrove, black mangrove, white mangrove, and buttonwood, all of which thrive in tidal zones where they grow in salt and brackish waters.

Red mangroves are often referred to as “walking trees” and are easily identified by their above-ground supporting roots that transport air to submerged underground roots. It looks like you’re walking on water.

Black mangrove roots protrude from the sediment (most roots extend into the ground). These are called stomatophores, which means “air-breathing roots,” and they act like snorkels that allow the tree to take in air when it’s standing in wet, salty mud. If you look closely at the leaves, you may see salt crystals on the surface. They can absorb salt water and release that salt onto their leaves.

White mangroves are the highest of the three mangroves. Although batonwood is not a true mangrove, it is generally found more inland than the three mangroves and is an excellent buffer against wind and storm surge.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), “Florida’s estimated 600,000 acres of mangrove forests contribute to the overall health of the state’s southern coastal region and surrounding areas. Mangrove roots are physically In addition to acting as natural traps, they provide an attachment surface for a variety of marine organisms that filter internal water and capture and circulate nutrients.”

“Mangroves proved their worth after Hurricane Irma, because without the mangrove system to absorb much of the storm surge and wind speeds, damage to Collier County’s population and associated properties would have been even more severe,” the conservation organization said. Because it would have been.”

Conservancy biologists have been studying mangrove systems since the conservancy’s inception and have one of the longest continuous mangrove monitoring projects in Florida. Their mangrove research primarily focuses on forests adjacent to human development, such as the Clam Bay Estuary and Fruit Farm Creek, also known as the Goodland Extinction Zone.

“We’re thrilled to be working on this project,” said Kathy Worley, the conservation group’s director of environmental science. Even mosquitoes avoided this area because there was no life to feed them. ”

“Their biologists have been studying this area since the late ’80s, when the forest was still alive,” according to the conservation group’s monitoring report. I started raising alarms trying to get some attention.”

Since 2012, the Conservancy has commissioned the Department of Environmental Sciences to conduct all the floral and fauna monitoring necessary to evaluate the success of the Fruit Farm Creek restoration plan.

Mr. Booher has been a biologist with the Southwest Florida Conservancy for over 12 years, dedicated to important environmental issues and the protection of water, land and wildlife. She was part of the Fruit Farm Creek “restoration” team and answered questions about the project.

According to FDEP, the Fruit Farm Creek project is the largest mangrove restoration site in Florida and is a partnership between FDEP, FWC, and the City of Marco Island. The facility consists of 220 acres off County Road 92 or San Marco Road with the goal of restoring life to mangrove forests. Culverts were installed to connect the mangrove forest from north to south of San Marco Road to provide life-giving tidal flow.

The project broke ground in September 2021 and took two years to complete. According to FDEP, tidal waters are now reaching 209 acres of previously impounded wetlands.

As a reminder, the deadline for Shell Club scholarship applications and grant applications is March 8, 2024. Applications and information are available on the website marcoislandshellclub.com. We will contact you regarding the status of your application after March 8th.

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