Before I applied to volunteer with the Projects Abroad Fiji Shark Conservation I can honestly say that I had not even heard of mangroves. I’m from the prairies located in the middle portion of Canada; a place where you definitely will not find a mangrove. When I signed up for the project I read that I would be working in a mangrove nursery, as well as going out and planting them. I didn’t look too far into the whole “mangrove thing,” because I was so focused on the shark aspect of the project. It was not until I arrived and had my mangrove workshop that I realized how vital mangroves are, not only to our marine ecosystem, but to us on land as well.
Mangrove forests can be found on the coasts of tropical climates throughout the world. They can be a nursery to various marine life, they also can help protect against tsunamis and storms, help keep the water cleaner by filtering debris and dirt sentiments through their roots, and they improve air quality by using carbon dioxide for the photosynthesis process. Just to name a few of the many qualities that not only marine life benefit from, but us as well when mangroves are around. The red mangroves are able to produce new plants that hang off of their leaves which are called “propagules.” They are so self-efficient that they eventually drop into the water where they float along upright until they reach a spot where they can plant themselves. At Projects Abroad we go out during low tide to find propagules that have not rooted themselves in the sand yet and we bring them back to our nursery to plant them in recycled bottles. After a few months in the nursery we pull them out and plant them along the coastline.
Volunteering here with Projects Abroad I have had the opportunity to go out into the mangrove swamps and collect propagules, plant the propagules into recycled bottles at our nursery, and then go out and plant the propagules along the shore line. During the two months of my time here at the project I took part in planting 5000 propagules. I now realize how significant these plants are to both of our ecosystems and I think it is important that people become aware of their significance and how special they are. While being a part of the project here, working with mangroves was one of my favourite activities. I think this was the case, because I realized how much we need them and how much the marine ecosystem needs them as well. They have adapted to withstand the harshest of conditions and this is why I have given them the name: Mighty Mangroves.