UAE mangrove forests have played an important role in lives of locals providing food and wood used for fire and construction. They are also called Blue Carbon ecosystems due to their ability to transform carbon dioxide into carbon.
Mangrove trees are truly beautiful and fascinating salt-tolerant plants that form a unique eco system in UAE that is home to many marine mammals and birds. They also serve as nursery for many fish species that move to the deeper ocean once they grow.
I had a chance to learn more about them at the natural reserve in Ghantoot managed by the Emirates Marine Environment Agency. It was extremely exciting to get close and personal with these green beauties as I walked around the reserve.
Meet my new friend: Avicennia marina which is a naturally occurring mangrove species in UAE. Locals call it ‘Qurm’ or the grey mangrove, due to the colour of the underside of its leaves.
Mangroves protect the coastal area from erosion caused by large waves and currents thanks to their massive root structures. In the past mangroves had a chance to show their protective “superpowers” during the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004. Studies following the natural disaster proved that areas with mangrove forests better survived and saved fragile natural habitats. Recently many efforts have been made to both plant new forests and preserve the existing ones.
Mangroves have numerous pneumatophores or respiratory roots protruding many meters away from the tree trunk.These root like structures are snorkels covered with pores that allow oxygen transport within the plant. It is common to see salt crystals on the bottom of the leaves which are secreted by the two glands at the base of a leaf. This is where the name “grey mangrove” comes from.
Mangroves produce buoyant seeds that float in water. Seedlings often travel long distances with currents and can remain dormant for many days until they find a suitable location to flourish.
As stated earlier, mangroves provide a perfect environment for many organisms. It equally appeals to birds that come to nest here as well as lobsters, shrimps and crabs that call the muddy bottom their home.
To sum it up, mangroves are pure awesomeness that is good both for the eye and environment, If you want to see mangroves in Dubai, get in touch with EMEG. There are also many ways to experience mangroves in Abu Dhabi and kayaking is probably the most fun option.
If you would like to participate in planting mangroves, follow PATT (Plant A Tree Today) Foundation.