What are Mangroves?

What are Mangroves?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/27/2020

Reading time: 3 mins

When exploring Cairns you’ll almost definitely stumble across the magnificent mangroves. These spectacular feats of nature are a treat to see and are unlike anything else you’ll see across Australia.

Basically put, mangroves are trees that grow in saltwater in hot, tropical climates. These magnificent trees are more common than you might expect, with over 1/3 of all tropical coastlines growing them!

Mangroves are incredibly sturdy and hardy plants. Their germination cycle is one of the most fascinating of any plants. Adult trees drop their seeds and one of two things may happen. If seeds are dropped during a low-tide period, the seed will grow in the exact spot it was dropped, making mangroves populations particularly dense in areas of low-tide. If the tide is high however, the seed will travel with the tide and plant itself in the first soil it finds, no matter where that is!

As they grow so easily, mangroves often become the base of small islands! So, if you’re ever out to sea and spot a lone mangrove, you might have found a budding new island.

Mangroves are also known to grow on coral reefs. The mangroves protect the reefs they attach to, as their roots bring oxygen into the water for the coral to breathe. They also filter pollutants out of the water. Truly mangroves are the protectors of our oceans.

Mangroves in Cairns

Mangroves line much of Australia’s northern coastlines, including in Cairns.

Something particularly interesting about the mangroves you can see here is the way they support other plants. Many species cling to the mangroves and use their branches and truck to support their weight. The visual composition this creates is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The mangroves in Cairns are some of the richest in the world. Though, as you have learnt, they will grow just about anywhere, the climate in Cairns is perfect for them to thrive. The mangroves here are some of the tallest and oldest in Australia and beckon you into their dense home. Hidden amongst their roots and branches are fascinating amounts of native animals, peeking their heads out to say hello. Birds in particular love to nest in mangroves.

They build their nests in the dense branches, which protect them from outside threats. Meanwhile, fish and crustaceans get caught in the mangrove roots below the water surface, providing the birds with an easy feed.

Mangrove Species

There are over 100 mangrove species around the world. Most of the mangroves you can see in Cairns are quite common, however, the region does boast one particularly rare species, the orange mangrove. There are only approximately 200 of these mangroves left in the world and a large population of them resides here.

The mangroves in Cairns are so important to the landscape and ecology of the region, that many programs are devoted to researching and protecting them.

You can get to know the mangroves better by following the mangrove walking track just a ten-minute drive from the airport!

Visiting the Cairns mangroves is a great way to get up close to nature and the perfect way to relax just before or after your flight.

Related article: What can you do in Cairns today?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.