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Explore the Mangroves & Native Animals Activity Sheet

You probably recognize mangroves by their vast root systems that grow high out of the water. But did you know that these trees help protect Florida’s coastlines and are an important part of Florida’s ecosystems? An ecosystem is a natural community of plants, animals, and organisms that interact with each other in nature. 

Mangroves live in high salinity areas by open bays and rivers. Salinity means salty, and in Florida, we have plenty of saltwater all around us! Here on the Gulf Coast, you can find three major types of mangroves: red mangroves, white mangroves, and black mangroves. They’re special because they are salt-tolerant, meaning they have adapted to living in saltwater. Red mangroves filter out salt through a barrier on their roots. That’s called salt-exclusion. Black and white mangroves are salt-excretion trees that separate and expel salt through their leaves.

Mangroves and their roots provide a safe home for many Florida-native animals. Native means they live naturally in that area. Animals that live in mangrove ecosystems include alligators, snails, Florida crown conchs, and different types of crabs. Mangroves are also home to several species of filter feeders like oysters and barnacles. Filter feeders are animals that help filter pollutants out of water. A number of species of fish swim among the roots including gray snappers, gobies, jacks, snook, blacktip reef sharks, lemon shark pups, and more. And if you look up, you can see Florida birds like roseate spoonbills, great egrets, and yellow-crowned night herons roosting on the treetops. Please note: No animals or habitats were disturbed during the making of this video! Remember to observe, not disturb on your next adventure.

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Team GCM Creators: Gift, Kate, & Lauren