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.
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
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.
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.
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.