Mangroves are the Keystone species of the intercoastal environment because their tangled forests form thick and intertwining roots that anchor islands and aquatic grass beds to the earth, preventing erosion and doubling as nurseries for hundreds of species! Some of these species include the vulnerable Manatee as well as an estimated 75% of the game fish and 90% of the commercial fish species found in South Florida.
These increasingly rare forests also filter the water that flows between their roots, creating purified regions within the bay for young rays, sharks, and fish species to learn and grow safely. Mangroves are one of the most highly valued ecological habitats, but it also faces challenges in the form of water pollution and overdevelopment. With coastline property being a highly prized commodity, and with 90% of Florida’s Mangroves found in southern Florida, there's been a stiff decline in these forests over the last three decades to make room for expanding populations.
Without these shelters, Manatee mothers in Biscayne Bay would have a harder time finding food to sustain an ever-growing calf, and the multi-billion-dollar fishing industry would decline steadily.