Animals in the Mangrove Ecosystem

By Jenna Foote
Mangroves growing in saline coastal waters.
mangrove aux antilles image by Danielle Bonardelle from

Mangroves are a type of tree found in intertidal zones of tropical areas, such as Australia, Florida and Asia. The trees thrive in diverse estuarial conditions--their roots are covered in salt water during times of high tide and exposed to the air when the tide is low. They grow in clusters called “mangal” and provide a habitat for many water and land dwellers.

Aquatic Animals

Mangrove Crab image by Daniel Gillies from

Many marine animals live near the roots of the mangroves. The roots provide protection from waves, erosion and silt. They also trap harmful sediments and prevent them from traveling inland so they don't infiltrate human and animal populations.

Marine animals that inhabit the mangrove ecosystem include fish such as the mangrove snapper, mollusks, crabs, prawns and the upside-down jellyfish.

Reptiles and Amphibians

crocodile image by Henryk Olszewski from

Perhaps the most notorious inhabitant of the mangrove estuary is the saltwater crocodile. Snakes also live in the mangroves, as well as frogs, turtles and monitor lizards.


osprey landing image by Pix by Marti from

A variety of birds inhabit the mangal. One is the roseate spoonbill, a pink storklike bird that uses its spoonlike bill to scoop prey out of the waters. Other bird species include the osprey, little tern, chestnut rail and beach thick-knee.


manatee,sea cow,mammal,water,river,homosassa sprin image by Earl Robbins from

Mammals that live in the mangroves include possums, flying foxes, monkeys and manatees. Manatees, also called sea cows, are large, whiskered mammals that live in the water. Like seals, they have front flippers and a paddle-shaped tail instead of hind legs. They are slow, curious creatures that eat mostly plants.

About the Author

Jenna Foote began her career as an online writer for CBS 5 News in Phoenix. Her work has been published on various websites, covering consumer and recreational topics. Foote holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Brigham Young University.