Mangrove Expeditions

Explore the mangrove forest with Chris…on a paddle board.  It rocks.

Mangroves are various types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S. The remaining mangrove forest areas of the world in 2000 was 53,190 square miles (137,760 km²) spanning 118 countries and territories.[1][2]

The term “mangrove” comes to English from Spanish (perhaps by way of Portuguese), and is likely to originate from Guarani[disambiguation needed]. It was earlier “mangrow” (from Portuguese mangue or Spanish mangle), but this was corrupted via folk etymology influence of “grove“.

Mangroves dominate three-quarters of tropical coastlines.[4] The saline conditions tolerated by various mangrove species range from brackish water, through pure seawater (30 to 40 ppt(parts per thousand)), to water concentrated by evaporation to over twice the salinity of ocean seawater (up to 90 ppt).[4][5]

An increase in mangroves has been suggested for climate change mitigation.

Approximately 35% of mangrove area was lost during the last several decades of the 20th century (in countries for which sufficient data exist), which encompass about half of the area of mangroves.[51] The United Nations Environment Program & Hamilton (2013), estimate that shrimp farming causes approximately a quarter of the destruction of mangrove forests.[52] [53] Likewise, the 2010 update of the World Mangrove Atlas indicated a fifth of the world’s mangrove ecosystems have been lost since 1980.[54]

Grassroots efforts to save mangroves from development are becoming more popular as their benefits become more widely known.

Ft. Dade: Island Ghost Town

The chance to visit an island ghost town does not come around very often but for the adventure seekers to Tampa Bay.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife estimates that each year 200,000 history buffs and nature lovers visit the sliver of land known as Egmont Key, now about 1.5 miles long and a quarter-mile wide and accessible only by boat or ferry. The island has been a state park since 1989.

The island played a prominent role in Florida’s Seminole Indian Wars, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. A 153-year-old working lighthouse still stands sentry, near the remnants of Fort Dade, an outpost built to protect Tampa from attack during the Spanish-American War.

Egmont has long been a haven for wildlife, including more than 30,000 bird nests a year, along with sea turtles and gopher tortoises. A cluster of cabins house on-duty pilots who guide mammoth ships through the bay to the Port of Tampa.

Significance, however, doesn’t always lead to salvation. A short distance away is Passage Key, once such a productive avian nursery that it was among the first federal bird reservations proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

Today it lies under water except during low tides, when it pops up briefly as a sandbar. About 10 acres of it lingered as late as 2005, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosted an anniversary celebration there. Five years later, it was gone.

Guided tours to the island are available for groups of 5 or more and include the boat ride out to the island from downtown St. Petersburg or Pass-a-grille beach.  For details or to schedule a tour to Egmont Key and the Fort Dade ruins, contact TBET at 727-379-4436.

RESOURCE:  Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge Fact Sheet