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There are many things that make the Ocean Reef Community special.  Due to our busy lifestyles some of the most obvious are often overlooked.   One of our most valuable resources is a natural one, Mangrove trees.  

 

 The thick growth of mangroves around Ocean Reef acts as a natural breakwater from wave action and storms.  This helps to prevent erosion. The shallow water mangrove root system provides vital reproduction and nursing habitat for all types of marine life such as fish, crabs, and shrimp.  The coastal mangrove system serves as one of the key pillars of the marine food chain that virtually all of our Florida marine life and many of our birds are dependent on. 

 

There are three types of mangroves common to our area.  Interestingly the three types are not closely related and actually belong to different families.  Generally they grow in different areas related to the water line and have slightly different reproduction capability.  In healthy habitat they almost always overlap with each other.

 

The most obvious and most common around the Reef is the Red Mangrove.  These are the mangroves that prefer the deepest water and have long and complex downward curving roots that often appear to glow a dull red when they are in bright light.  Fast growing and fast spreading Red Mangroves are the pioneers when there is room for expansion.  If you have noticed the earthen plug that has been installed in the Card Sound Road canal about 2 miles above the tollgate you have seen that the Red Mangrove sprouts that were hand planted there a few years ago are doing very well.

 

Black mangroves are not as tolerant of salt water as the Reds and usually grow along the water line.   The Black mangrove has an elaborate system of roots that stick straight up out of the sand like pencils. These provide oxygen for the tree to grow.   More tolerant of cold weather than the other species the Black mangroves can grow into large trees over time.

 

The White mangrove is the least tolerant of water and generally grows above the tide line. 

 

The destruction of mangroves, not only in Florida, but also throughout the Caribbean basin is a serious problem.  Responsible parties can obtain trimming permits however, for the most part, digging up the root systems or killing mangroves is strictly prohibited.