When you think of mangroves, surely a muddy area comes to mind, full of mosquitoes and murky waters.
Nothing to do with the mangrove area of Bonaire, which is one of the most beautiful on the island, a nursery for reef fish and a quiet area where lots of birds come to spend the day peacefully, and a place rich in sea grass reason why we can find green turtles grazing in this area.
Bonaire mangroves have very important roles:
They are a natural protection of the reef: the mangrove forest has a positive effect on the health of coral reefs around the island. For example, when it rains heavily on Bonaire, the mangroves protect the coral reefs from being covered by mudflows and heavy particles falling from the hills.
As you might know it is very important that corals get sunlight, as they need it for photosynthesis.
We already said they act as a nursery area: lots of small fish grow up between the roots of the red mangroves . This area provides shelter against bigger predators until they are big enough to migrate back onto the coral reefs of Bonaire.
Only 1 little fish in every 10.000 survives predators like barracudas, and grows to adulthood to reproduce!
Red mangroves in Bonaire are also a natural coastal protection. Its roots and system is so dense that when a big tidal wave pushes onto the coast where mangroves live, the wave loses its energy in trying to pass through the mangroves and will cause little or no damage.
You will find 3 species of mangroves in Bonaire:
Red mangroves that stand in the water and are easily recognisable by its drop roots hanging down from the branches. These need fresh water to live so they found their way to convert salt water into fresh water with the help of semi-permeable membranes, with a process called reverse osmosis.
Black mangroves, which are in the tidal zone. They look more like a normal tree and you can find them right behind the red mangroves along the edges of the inner bays.
And the White mangroves which are almost never submerged in the water. They are low shrubs and sometimes you can see salt crystals on its leaves!
If you want to see more of this amazing ecosystem while in Bonaire take one of these tours!
You will learn about our mangrove area, it will not leave you indifferent and you will understand the importance of taking care of mangroves forests around the world.