Mangroves are plants and shrubs that live on the land but are flooded by sea water for part of each day. This flooding is the high tide. The land at the edge of the sea is called the shore. The water on the shore gets higher when the tide comes in. This is called high tide. The water on the shore gets lower when the tide goes out. This is called low tide. A high tide is always followed by a low tide and a low tide is always followed by another high tide. In most places there are two high tides and two low tides each day. The part of the shore that lies between high tide and low tide is called intertidal zone. This area between land and sea is called the intertidal zone. This zone is the area that is exposed to the air at low tide and flooded at high tide.
Mangroves are able to live in the intertidal zone because they are special plants with special organs that help them to live in salty surroundings and in poor soil. Mangroves are places with a lot of animal and plant life; this is called biodiversity. The mangrove branches are home to different birds, insects and reptiles. Around the under water roots of the mangroves you can find animals like clams, oysters, barnacles, young fishes, star fish, sea cucumbers, sea worms and sea sponges. Many species of fish lay their eggs between the mangrove roots. When the young fish hatch, they hide and feed between the roots and are safe from predators.
Mangroves are also important because they help to keep the water clean. Their roots act as filters that take up the pollution in the water. Mangroves also help to protect our shoreline from erosion by storm waves.
There are about 54 species or different kinds of mangroves in the world. In the Caribbean and on St. Maarten we have four kinds: the Red mangrove, Black mangrove, White mangrove and the (Silver) Buttonwood mangrove. The red mangrove grows in the water followed by the Black mangrove that is partly in the water. Next are the White mangrove and the Buttonwood that are found higher up on land.
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