Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Friday, January 26, 2007

Paddling the mangroves

Jade over at Arboreality and I share a passion for mangroves, trees and shrubs that dwell in and around coastal waters. Mangroves are a testament to tenacity, having adapted extensively to the challenges of growing and reproducing in several feet of seawater.

If I recall, Jade got her introduction to mangroves in Belize; I've been fascinated with the Florida mangroves off the Keys since I was a child. Forty and fifty years ago, my grandparents navigated the mangroves in their boat to fish for snapper. In the last ten years, I've taken to exploring them by kayak. This is my favorite way to see them. It's impossible to overstate how much life is supported by these unique plants, and kayaking offers an opportunity to see it all up close. The wikipedia entry for Florida mangroves lists the following:

"The branches of mangroves serve as roosts and rookeries for coastal and wading birds, such as the brown pelican (Oelicanus occidentalis), roseate spoonbill (Ajajia ajaia), Frigatebird (Fregata magnificans), Double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus), Great White Heron and Wurdemann's Heron, color phases of the Great Blue Heron (Adrea herodias), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Green Heron (Butorides striatus), Reddish Egret (Dichromanassa rufescens) and Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca). Other animals that shelter in the mangroves are the American Coot (Fulica americana), American Crocodile, Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus), Mangrove Snake (Nerodia clarkii compressicauda) and the Atlantic Saltmarsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii taeniata ).

Above the water mangroves also shelter and support snails, crabs, spiders, bromeliads of the genus Tillandsia, including Spanish Moss, and Reindeer lichen. Below the water's surface, often encrusted on the mangrove roots, are sponges, anemones, corals, oysters, tunicates, mussels, sea stars, crabs, Florida Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) and seagrasses."

Here is an image of a cormorant rookery I took a few years ago:

Two years ago, I took along my Nikonos V and attempted some underwater shots after donning my mask and snorkel and lashing my kayak to Mr. T's boat. That roll of film got ruined in a tragic film spool accident. I haven't yet recovered.

This trip, Mr. T and I took our son along in a double kayak, so there was no underwater photography. Anyway, I promised Jade mangrove pictures, and the best I could do was this video. I'm used to my own boat, and the hatch on this one -- where I kept the cameras in dry bags -- was too far forward for comfort. Also, my seat kept slipping, making the video a little jittery. (These are all obviously excuses for my sorry-ass video recording, I know.) We went deep into the mangroves on this paddling trip, and the passage was often extremely narrow.

As always, there's a bit of four-year old narration on this one. I like to think of him as a budding Sir David Attenborough.


JLB said...

Having trouble with comments, but let me try one more time...

Thank you, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this! I just had a dream about Belize, and seeing this video was most welcome! Thank you again Trailhead!

Trailhead said...

You're quite welcome. I just watched it on youtube for the first time, and I have to say, it didn't survive the transition as well as I'd hoped. When I play it on Windows Media Player, it's a lot clearer. On youtube, it looks like the viewfinder's wet. (Which it wasn't!) I wonder if this is an issue with my monitor, or what.

Also, I've been having trouble commenting on Blogger sites this morning as well. Wonder what's up.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I'd love to travel through a mangrove area. Thanks for sharing.

Trailhead said...

Thanks for stopping by, crafty green poet!