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Tales of the Coast
Sharing the Coast

Mangrove Coast Ecosystems

Mangroves include several species of trees and shrubs that thrive in the warm, shallow saltwater environments of the lower latitudes. Worldwide, there are over 20 species of mangroves; of these, the red, white, and black mangroves are dominant in south Florida and the Caribbean.

Mangrove forests form dense, entangled networks of roots that trap sediment and extend the coast. The marsh substrate is composed of silt- and clay-size sediment with a large percentage of carbon material. Along mangrove coasts in the Gulf of Mexico, high and low marshes are not well-defined because of the irregular and small-amplitude tides.

Farther upland, plants such as coconuts and dune grasses are adapted to live near, but not in, seawater.

Mangrove Coast

Mangrove Coast
Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Mangrove Coast Ecosystems

Sediment compaction, hydrocarbon withdrawal, and the construction of canals and levees have contributed to the loss of wetlands and marshes along the Gulf coast.