I find mangroves a fascinating place and was interested to read recently of their ecological importance. That tangle of branches and roots provides protection for so much life. The muddy waters provide a nursery for many fish and prawns. Insects love the moist protected environment and in turn birds enjoy the protection of the mangrove trees and the wealth of food sources. Scientists have recorded more than 230 species of birds living in the mangrove environment in Australia. The mud is a rich source of nutrients for plants and aquatic life.
The mangrove environment also provides shelter from storms and rough seas and protects the banks against erosion. Indeed mangrove lined creeks are one of the best places to shelter from tropical cyclones if you happen to be aboard a boat and caught out by a storm.
It is therefore with some sadness that I read of the threat to mangroves in Australia and worldwide.
On a recent walk in Kuring Gai National Park just north of Sydney I found hundreds of meters of mangrove forest littered with plastic, comprising mainly plastic beverage bottles and polystyrene from packing cases used frequently in the fishing industry. The mangrove acts as a filter trapping this flotsam as it makes it's way to the ocean down our waterways. Washed from paths and roads this litter becomes concentrated in the mangroves in this area and is very difficult and time consuming to clean up. It is estimated that 70% of commercially caught fish have spent some time in a mangrove environment. These natural nurseries deserve to be protected from this plastic pollution. Failure to minimise this "leakage" of plastics into our oceans is leading to increasing amounts of plastics in our food chain.