The Wonders of Mangroves
Mangroves are shrubs or small trees growing on mudflats in intertidal zones where freshwater and brackish water meet. They are uniquely adapted to survive in their environment.
Mangroves grow in pockets along the coast of Sindh and Balochistan, with the largest concentration in the Indus Delta.
At present, there are four mangrove species found in Pakistan.
The most abundant is the grey mangrove, Avicennia marina, accounting for 90% of all mangroves.
This is followed by the loop root mangrove, Rhizophora mucronata, which represents 8% of all mangroves. Most replantation efforts are centred around it.
The remaining 2% is made up of two species; the black mangrove Aegiceras corniculatum (1.5%) and the spurred or Indian mangrove Ceriops tagal (0.5%).
Importance of Mangroves
Mangroves are exceptionally important in Pakistan. They provide essential habitat for thousands of species, stabilize shorelines, prevent erosion and protect the land from waves and storms. Mangrove ecosystems also provide significant socio-economic benefits, such as timber, fish, and tourism opportunities. Studies show that, pound for pound, mangroves can sequester four times more carbon than rainforests!
The mangrove ecosystem is rich in biodiversity, and many animals have chosen the mangroves as their home for various reasons.
Mudskippers and mud crabs burrow into the mudflats and rely on the changing tides for their food and safety. They hide in burrows during low tide and forage during high tide. When the tide rises too high, they climb up the roots of the mangroves for security.
Fish and shrimp treat mangroves as their nurseries. They lay their eggs within the tangled roots of the mangroves to keep them safe from predators.
A Home by the Shore
Mangroves offer protection and abundant food sources for migratory birds. Because mangroves grow out at sea, it is a haven from land-based predators. Some migratory birds build their nests in the mangroves, while others hunt fish, shrimp, and crabs in the shallows around the mudflats. Flamingo’s filter-feed out of the water while egrets and cormorants are active hunters. Birds of prey also make their way over in search of an easy meal.
A Predator in the Midst
However, not all are safe in the mangroves. This is because there is an elusive predator in the healthiest mangrove habitats – the critically endangered fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus). At twice the size of a house cat, the rarely seen fishing cat that is uniquely adapted to being the apex predator of the mangrove ecosystems.
Immerse yourself into the mangrove habitat. Walk through the mangrove ecosystem and explore all four species of Pakistan’s mangroves around you. The grey mangrove Avicennia marina, the loop root mangrove Rhizophora mucronata, the black mangrove Aegiceras corniculatum and the spurred or Indian mangrove Ceriops tagal.
Learn about the natural conditions required for the survival of mangroves as you observe the tide simulation, which alternates between high and low tide.
Look into the dioramas around the exhibit to understand the different aspects of the mangrove ecosystem.
Through this exhibit, you will gain an understanding about the mangrove ecosystem, its inhabitants, and its significance.
The Roots of Avicenna Marina Mangrove
This diorama illustrates the pneumatophores or breathing roots of the Avicenna marina mangrove. These roots grow upward out of the dense mudflats to absorb oxygen directly from the air.
The Roots of Rhizophora mucronata
This diorama shows the roots of a Rhizophora mucronata. These roots act as stilts holding the tree high above the water. The inner roots are the ideal spot for fish and shrimp to lay their eggs. Can you spot the mud crabs, snails, and shellfish?
The Mangrove Life
This diorama shows the inhabitants of the mangrove ecosystem. It uses an old mangrove trunk that has become driftwood. Here, cattle egret, mud crab and shellfish are present. In the corner, the roots of a Rhizophora are visible.
Mangroves by the coastline
This diorama shows mangroves near the coastline. The mangroves are on mudflats not far from the sand. Such a sight is visible at Hawke’s Bay or Sandspit Beach, where a sandy beach separates a mangrove lagoon and the ocean. It shows a mud crab and a cattle egret.
Meet the mudskippers
This diorama shows the mudskippers, the poster child of mangrove adaptation. This one-of-a-kind fish species is just as happy on land as they are in the water. Mudskippers live along the mudflats amongst the dense mangroves breathing air and climbing up the branches. They burrow into the mud to lay their eggs.
Importance of Mangroves
Wonders of Mangroves
Mangroves Species in Pakistan
Under water Nursery