September - Mangroves

Our habitat highlight this month is MANGROVES!

Mangroves are a unique and specialized intertidal wetland ecosystems, found in salty waterlogged coastlines, and covering 53,190 square miles of the the Earths surface.

For mangroves to survive they need certain requirements, they will not survive in tempertures below 5 degrees celcius (they are not resistant to freezing), and they can not be in a place with strong tidal currents or destructive waves

The most iconic look of mangroves are their raised roots, these roots allow the plant to survive in salty conditions by absorbing oxygen from the air, whilst the salt collected from the sea water is stored in vacuoles then expelled by salt glands on the leaves. The expelled salt can be visiable as salt crystals on the leaves. The mangroves have adapted a negative hydrostatic pressure which allows them to take water up against the osmotic pressure, resulting in their survival in such a salty environment. The long dropping roots also act as a drainage system which collects the fresh rain water.

There are 70 species of mangroves that provide a home to all types of organisms from Pelicans, cuckoos, sharks, turtles, crocodiles, crabs and monkeys.

INTERESTING DOCUMENTARIES TO WATCH: David Attenborough; Margins of the lands, the living planet. David Attenborough: The blue planet: tidal seas.

Along with our Habitat Highlight, it's time to announce our SPECIES OF THE MONTH!

This month we're looking at the mudskipper, Oxudercinae, an amphibious fish found in tropical and sub-tropical waters, particularly mangrove swamps! Even though mudskippers are fish, they can survive both in and out of water. Their most noticeable feature is their pectoral fins, located under their elongated body that act almost as legs, allowing the mudskipper to “skip” across muddy surfaces and even give them the ability to climb trees and low branches. Because of these fins, mudskippers have also been found to be able to leap distances of up to 60 centimetres!

Mudskippers live in burrows in intertidal zones, making mangroves the perfect habitat for them. They can breathe and store oxygen through their skin and the lining of their mouths, helping them survive on land and in water, including in water that is almost completely anoxic. Digging deep burrows in soft sediments allows mudskippers to thermoregulate, avoid predators during high tide and lay their eggs.

The rapid destruction and pollution of mangrove forests and swamps are the biggest threat to the mudskipper; as mangrove swamps decline, competition for food and space increases, and the population of mudskippers will gradually decrease.

Mangroves host a huge number of plants and animals and are a really important habitat for our marine life. To learn more about mangroves and how to help, visit the links below;

See you next month!