The Magic of Mangroves

Dive in and learn the 7 things absolutely everyone should know about mangroves – the world's most important trees.

By The Ocean Agency

In partnership with 11th Hour Racing, UN Environment Programme and UNESCO. (Image by Lorenzo Mittiga)

There Are 7 Things Everyone Should Know About Mangroves...

Coral reefs and mangrove trees by Matt Curnock / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

1. Mangroves = Coral Reefs

Mangroves provide a safe habitat for the juvenile fish that coral reefs rely on. Mangroves also protect corals from storms and heat waves due to climate change. 

Corals (and nearby seagrass beds) benefit from being situated near these coastal forests.

Mangroves help corals by reducing the ocean’s acidity and filtering runoff that flows to reefs, which shields these habitats from algal blooms and generally improves water quality.

Juvenile grunt in mangrove roots, Bonaire by Lorenzo Mittiga / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

2. Mangroves = Fish

Mangroves provide an essential nursery for three-quarters of the world’s tropical fish, as well as other marine life such as juvenile lobster and sharks and stationary feeders like sponges, anemones and oysters. 

Juvenile lobster, Lorenzo Mittiga / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Bluespotted Ribbontail Ray, Matt Curnock / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Nurse shark, Lorenzo Mittiga / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Intertwined mangrove roots offer protection from predators as well as small food sources for young aquatic creatures.

Godavari mangrove forest, India by Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

3. Mangroves = Climate Action

Mangroves are excellent at reducing carbon in the atmosphere — up to 10 times better than forests on land. Mangroves’ ability to store carbon makes them especially valuable for fighting climate change — even more so than terrestrial forests.

Bengal Tiger, India by Santanu Majumdar / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

4. Mangroves = Survival

Mangroves help animals such as the endangered Bengal tiger survive. Over 30 plants and animals ranging from “Vulnerable” to “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species have been associated with mangrove habitats, whether for finding prey or protection.

Leopard cat in the Godavari mangrove forest, India, Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Yellow fiddler crab in the Godavari mangrove forest, India, Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Smooth coated otter pups taking refuse in mangroves, India, Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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All types of marine life depend on mangroves for survival.

Fishing village on the edge of the mangrove forest by Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

5. Mangroves = Protection

Mangroves significantly reduce the impact of strong storm surges that are responsible for flooding during large storms. There are numerous stories of mangroves being the difference between life and death for people living in coastal communities. 

Because of how they’re positioned on the shoreline, mangroves also protect communities from coastal erosion. 

A fisherman in the mangrove river by Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

6. Mangroves = Wealth

Mangroves have been valued at over $3.3 million per square kilometer and over $2.7 trillion globally. That’s an amount that most communities and countries can’t afford to lose. 

Fishing in Godavari mangrove forest by Srikanth Mannepuri / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

Many communities and governments, especially those of developing nations, benefit greatly from the value of their mangroves.

A kayaker in the mangroves, Indonesia, Fabrice Dudenhofer / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Mangrove science in Bonaire, Lorenzo Mittiga / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Mangroves in Hawaii by Toby Matthews / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

7. Mangroves = Mangroves

Mangroves are amazing at repopulating. Given the right conditions, mangroves can bounce back surprisingly quickly.

Mangrove propagules, Photo Adobe Stock, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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New mangrove tree, Hawaii, Toby Matthews / Ocean Image Bank, From the collection of: The Ocean Agency
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Mangrove seeds, or propagules, start to grow while still attached to the parent tree. After the propagules drop off the tree, they’re swept away by ocean currents, floating until they become waterlogged, sink to the seafloor, take root and start to grow a new mangrove tree.

Mangroves, Australia by Matt Curnock / Ocean Image BankThe Ocean Agency

Mangrove Action Project uses the Community-Based Ecological Mangrove Restoration technique to help regrow mangrove forests. It involves local stakeholders and urges for action not only to facilitate natural regeneration, but also to reduce stressors leading to mangrove decline.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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