Remembering Mangroves, the Walking Tree to Wetlands

Evie Flaugh balances her way through a mangrove forest, 2012. Martin County. (Photo credit Jenny Flaugh)
Young Evie Flaugh, walks through a mangrove forest, 2012, Near Hole in the Wall, Martin County. (Photo credit Jenny Flaugh)

One of the first things I learned about the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River as a kid at the Environmental Studies Center and later at Florida Oceanographic was mangroves. Red mangroves had cool arch like roots; white mangrove had a notch on the leaf and a salty back; and black mangrove had weird breathing sucker roots coming out of the ground around the tree and were sometimes very  large. http://www.floridaocean.org/uploads/docs/blocks/22/irl-mangroves.pdf  

I also remember walking with my parents along the beach of Jupiter Island and there were gigantic halloween like remnants of a black mangrove forest coming out of the eroding sands.  I also remember the closed off mosquito impoundments around today’s Marriott, Indian River Plantation, and A1A, along the ocean, drowning the mangroves, many white, and black, that looked like giant dead sentinels, somehow still alive, watching us over-kill our environment and all the little misquitoes.

And today, yes, it seems the red mangrove, more than the others, flourishes. Interestingly enough, before the St Lucie Inlet was opened by hand in 1892, there were not many mangroves along the St Lucie River as it was fresh. But close to the ocean, along parts of the Indian River Lagoon, there was brackish water and  there were mangroves.

My historian mother recently told me she attended a lecture of  fish scientist, Dr. Grant Gilmore, and he was of the opinion we needed to create, restore more wetlands and fewer mangroves (as they were destroyed by mosquito impoundments) as the wading birds and many fish rely on this habitat, not just mangrove habitat.

His 2012 key note presentation at Harbor Branch Oceanograpic Institute Symposium is summarized here: http://indianriverlagoon.org/pdf/IRLS%202012%20Abstracts%20of%20Presentations.pdf

In closing this short reminiscent piece, one other thing I remember about being a kid growing up in Martin County is the mosquitos! They were brutal at certain times of the year. We would run in place at the bus stop so they couldn’t get us, and my little  legs were always full of bites and scars. I also remember riding our bikes behind the mosquito fogger truck for entertainment…(so that’s what happened!)

Remembering it all, I can empathize why we went to war with the mosquitos, but if we went too far, let’s take a clear-headed walk through the mangroves, and see what we can do…

3 thoughts on “Remembering Mangroves, the Walking Tree to Wetlands

  1. Interesting comment from my mother:

    Actually, mosquito ditches allowed Red Mangrove to flourish were they could not before. By letting the brackish water into what had not was previously connected with the Lagoon the trees marched inland. I have always thought it ironic that government agencies dug the ditches without private owners’ permission then later would not let the land be developed because of the protected mangroves.
    Sandra Thurlow
    sandra@thurlowbooks.com

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  2. Remember similar times . Before running after the fogger we used to have contests to see who could let the most mosquitos settle on their legs. The winner often had around 20 from what I remember. And these were little legs.

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