Sarasota’s Mangrove Forest and the Mangrove Tunnels are on my “must see” list for any visitor. It’s a unique habitat that you rarely have a chance to be in the middle of. Lots of mullet are scooting along the water bottom while you paddle, and many of the mangroves have little crabs crawling all over. The tunnels were originally made by the Army Corps of Engineers for mosquito mitigation.
More on Mangrove Forest from Wikipedia:
Mangrove swamps are found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas. Areas where mangal occurs include estuaries and marine shorelines.
The intertidal existence to which these trees are adapted represents the major limitation to the number of species able to thrive in their habitat. High tide brings in salt water, and when the tide recedes, solar evaporation of the seawater in the soil leads to further increases in salinity. The return of tide can flush out these soils, bringing them back to salinity levels comparable to that of seawater. At low tide, organisms are also exposed to increases in temperature and desiccation, and are then cooled and flooded by the tide. Thus, for a plant to survive in this environment, it must tolerate broad ranges of salinity, temperature, and moisture, as well as a number of other key environmental factors-thus only a select few species make up the mangrove tree community.
About 110 species are considered “mangroves”, in the sense of being a tree that grows in such a saline swamp, though only a few are from the mangrove plant genus, Rhizophora. However, a given mangrove swamp typically features only a small number of tree species. It is not uncommon for a mangrove forest in the Caribbean to feature only three or four tree species. For comparison, the tropical rainforest biome contains thousands of tree species, but this is not to say mangrove forests lack diversity. Though the trees themselves are few in species, the ecosystem these trees create provides a home for a great variety of other organisms.