They are on all coasts of the peninsula, in all estuarine river mouths,
and the good thing for
you as a
traveller is that this is where you can do some excellent
fishing and mud crabbing, and may
even spot a deadly
What you likely notice less of is the species variety of mangroves
themselves. Cape York
species of Australian mangroves - about 30 of them, while
south there are only two.
ecosystem is a more important habitat than previously
It is a
nursery for juveniles of a lot of different fish, amphibian,
reptile, bird and mammal species, and it also acts as a filter for
pollution, and protection from cyclones.
trees are not necessarily related to each other. Unlike other
plants such as eucalypts, ferns, cycads or palm trees, mangrove plants
can be of very different origin.
The only thing they have in common is
that they tolerate saltwater.
White, Red and Black Mangrove
every species tolerates the saltwater to a different degree.
a zoning in mangrove
swamps, where grey mangoves are at the
waterfront, with red and then yellow mangroves, and finally salt march
and casuarinas on the higher grounds.
one of the most amazing things are of course mangrove roots.
a few different kinds of them (pneumatophores, stilt and buttress
roots), but they are all half way above the ground. This is to keep
them from drowning when the tide is in. Like other roots, they need to
seeds can perfetly survive after floating in the water for a long
While most other plants need to use a seed spreader like a bird or
animal (which means the 'cost' of growing fruits), mangroves simply
spread their seeds in moving water.
Mangrove swamps are very rich in animals.
There are many
of fish, including mangrove jack and barramundi.
There are mud crabs and mangrove crabs, oysters, many species
birds, and reptiles like snakes
crabs is a vague term and can apply to any crab that is living in
It can apply to many different species, including our
favourite - the mud crab.
mangrove animals, they are an important part of this ecosystem.
swamps are a very
productive ecosystem that grows in tidal, salty or
estuarine water on or near the coasts.
Worldwide there are 80 species of mangroves, in Australia there are 30,
and Cape York peninsula
is known for being the richest place, having all the 30
species while on the southern coast of the country there are only two.
are mostly trees, but the group is not
- unlike say Australia's 900 species of eucalypts that are all related
to each other, mangroves don't have to have anything in common to
belong to the group, except the
ability to tolerate salt.
salt toleration is obviously a 'cost' without which the life would be
easier, but mangroves bear that cost to skip competition in other
environments, because they
are hopeless competitors.
They are able to live in
but are not found there because they get outcompeted by more
competitive plants. In salty environment, where most other plants
cannot live, mangroves get left alone.
- Yellow, White, Red and Black Mangrove
species use different
strategies to deal with salt. Some control the salt
intake. Others have the ability to excrete salt. Yet others store water
or counterbalance the salt.
Different species also obviously have different abilities to deal with
salt, something that creates mangrove
from where the waterfront is at low tide, in the front are the
least salt tolerant mangroves, because at each tide this area gets
washed out most. In the first
zone you usually have grey mangrove (Avicennia marina),
which is also the most common species in Australia, that also grows
In the next zone you usually have red mangrove (Rhyzophora stylosa),
and there could be many more zones depending on the species richness,
but highest up
is the yellow mangrove (Ceriops sp), the most salt tolerate one.
the highest tides reach the yellow mangrove zone, which means that the
salt that accumulates there gets washed out more seldom.
have likely noticed, there are many different types of mangrove roots -
some more impressive than others.
Salt tolerance can be part of the reason in some, but the main reason for massive
mangrove roots is that without them the tree would drown.
in tidal waters the ground will be covered in water at least once a
day, and some root parts at least need to stay out of the water even at
the highest tides, because the
tree needs the oxygen.
There are different types of these roots, some most common main types
are pencil, stilt, knee and buttress roots.
photo above are two -
the pencil roots
are the ones that stick out of the ground like sticks
or pencils, while the curvy ones are stilt roots.
And on the photos below are knee
roots on the left, and buttress
roots on the right hand side.
All are to catch the oxygen above the surface of the water.
every other ecosystem, there
are obviously also animals, and
for a long time it was not really understood how much of these are in
Tidal areas such as mangrove swamps are very important nurseries
to a lot of species, and they are a vital part of life cycle for many
of our favourite catches such as mudcrabs,
and fish like mangrove jack and barramundi.
Other aquatic animals
include lots more different species of fish and crabs, and
lots of different crustaceans, molluscs,
oysters, and obviously the famous saltwater crocodile.
Also lots of small worms etc that we don't appreciate, but are important for some animals that
we do appreciate including barramundi and mangrove jack.
On top of that there are the terrestrial
including possums, bats, lizards, tree snakes, pythons and a
couple of hundred species of birds, some of which completely dependant
of mangrove swamps.
Importance of Mangrove Swamps
On top of
the animals that rely on mangrove ecosystem, including those
that do it during a part of their life cycle, mangrove swamps also act
as filters for pollution and as barriers against the destruction of
floods and storms including tropical cyclones. With a better understanding
of those muddy and smelly waste of land areas as previously considered,
thankfully they are now conserved better.
Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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