These Extreme Mangroves, Or Conquering Salt

These Extreme Mangroves, Or Conquering Salt
These Extreme Mangroves, Or Conquering Salt
Video: These Extreme Mangroves, Or Conquering Salt
Video: Exploring UNTOUCHED areas INSANE Fishing 2023, February
Anonim

South Sinai offers travelers quite a few unique natural gems. One of them is undoubtedly the Ras Mohammed Marine National Park, which has no equal in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of the quantity and quality of corals, marine flora and fauna. Ras Mohammed Marine National Park ranks third in the world for the beauty of the underwater world, yielding the first two steps of fame only to the Australian Great Barrier Reef and the famous Maldives.

Image
Image
Image
Image

The Ras Mohammed Marine National Park is located just 25 km from the popular Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh on the southernmost point of the Sinai Peninsula, in the place where the Arabian and Suez Gulfs meet. Ras Mohammed, opened in 1989, covers an area of ​​480 sq. km, two thirds of this space is the sea. Most of Ras Mohammed's visitors come here to enjoy the vivid pictures of the underwater world. However, we came to Ras Mohammed National Park to see, first of all, very unusual plants - mangroves.

Mangrove plants are found on the border of land and sea along the tropical coast of the entire globe - the coasts of East Africa and South Asia, Australia and Oceania. One of the places where they grow is Egypt, where mangroves can be seen on the territory of the Ras Mohammed and Nabq national parks.

Image
Image

The first mention of the mangroves was left to us by Nearchus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, back in 325 BC. During his voyage from India to Mesopotamia Nearchus discovered in the Persian Gulf thickets of unknown plants, which he called "forests growing from the sea." It is believed that the name of these plants - "mangrove" (mangrove) comes from the merger of two words: Portuguese mangue - which means "curve", and English grove - "grove". Dozens of species of mangrove trees and shrubs existing on our planet are united by a unique ability to grow on saline soil, very poor in mineral elements, periodically covered by tides. The homeland of mangroves is Southeast Asia. The southern coast of New Guinea is distinguished by the greatest variety of mangrove plants in our time.

Mangrove plants are a group of various evergreen trees and shrubs that have developed a set of physiological adaptations that allow them to survive on muddy, periodically flooded areas of sea coasts and river estuaries, in conditions of low oxygen content and rather high salinity. Mangrove plants are characterized by the presence of such morphological features as salt glands, succulence of leaves and ultrafiltered roots. Adaptations developed in mangroves for habitation in the intertidal zone are practically absent or extremely rare in communities of other plant types.

Image
Image

Mangrove plants are represented by 54 species from 20 genera included in 16 families. The most common types are red, black and white mangroves. Mangroves are under water on average up to 40% of the total time. Sea tides often flood plants to the top. Mangrove nutrients are obtained from salt water, while purifying it of organic impurities and other harmful substances.

In red mangroves, the roots of the plant desalinate more than 90% of the water using a kind of ultrafiltration mechanism. After passing through such a root "filter", the water contains only about 0.03% salt. All salt entering the plants accumulates in old leaves, which the plants then discard, as well as in special cell vesicles, where it no longer causes any harm to the plant. White (sometimes also called gray) mangroves can excrete salt due to the presence of two salt glands at the base of each leaf. The leaves of these plants are generously covered with white salt crystals. True, we were not able to see such crystals on the leaves, because three days before our arrival, a very rare guest of the desert - rain - hosted in these places.

Image
Image

To limit the loss of life-giving moisture through mangrove leaves, special mechanisms have also been developed. For example, they can limit the opening of stomata on the surface of leaves, through which exchange of carbon dioxide and water vapor occurs during photosynthesis; in addition, during the day, to reduce evaporation of moisture, mangroves rotate their leaves so as to avoid hot sunlight as much as possible.

Поскольку мангры обитают в местах, где почва бедна питательными веществами, для максимально возможного получения питательных веществ эти растения изменили свои корни. Многие мангровые развили систему воздушных или ходульных корней, закрепляющую растение в полужидком иле и позволяющую ему получать газообразные вещества непосредственно из атмосферы, а различные другие питательные вещества - из почвы. В корнях также происходит процесс накопления газообразных веществ, чтобы их можно было потом перерабатывать, когда корни растения будут находиться под водой во время прилива.

Nature has taken very original care of protecting the reproduction of the genus of mangrove plants. All mangroves have floating seeds adapted to spread through water. Many mangrove plants are viviparous, not yet separated from the tree, their seeds begin to germinate. As long as the fruit hangs on the branch, a long sprout sprouts from the seed, either inside the fruit or through the fruit to the outside. The seedling formed in this way can feed on its own using photosynthesis, and when it ripens, it rushes down into the water. Water is the main means of transportation. For full maturation, the seedling must hold out in the sea for at least a month. During their sometimes very long swimming, the seedlings are able to endure drying out and remain dormant for even more than a year - until they get into a favorable environment.

Image
Image

When such a seedling - a traveler is ready to take root, it begins to control its position in the water, changing its density in such a way as to "roll over" and take a vertical position in the water - bud up, roots down. In this form, it is easier for him to stick into the mud and start life in a new place. If the seedling fails to take root in this place, it is able to change its density again and again set off on a new journey in search of more favorable conditions. But quite often the seedling grows so long that it reaches the mud even before the fruit falls.

Mangroves are a separate complex ecosystem. Mangroves restrain coastal salinization and resist coastal erosion. Their fallen leaves serve as food for all kinds of microorganisms at the beginning of the food chain. Aerial roots, flooded with water, become a refuge for many small fish, shrimp, crabs and various marine microorganisms. Many species of migratory birds find a place for nesting and resting in mangroves, which are difficult for humans and large animals to access. Parrots and monkeys live in the crowns of mangroves. Terrestrial animals feed on the leaves of some mangrove plants.

Once upon a time, mangrove plants occupied almost two-thirds of all coasts in the tropical latitudes of our planet. Today, the area of ​​mangroves is shrinking at an alarmingly increasing rate, and humanity has already lost more than half of the world's mangrove forests.

Photo: Lada Khrustaleva

Popular by topic