If all rivers lead to the ocean, estuaries are where those waters meet. Estuaries are found in every climate at every latitude, anywhere fresh water meets the ocean...at the end of rivers in coastal plains, much like the Chesapeake Bay; in fjords, for which Norway, Greenland, and New Zealand are known; around sandbars, like the North Carolina Outer Banks, and in tectonic areas like the San Francisco Bay.
Mangroves are an especially crucial part of the marine ecosystem in tropical and subtropical estuaries, serving as nurseries for baby sea animals. The largest mangroves forests can be found in Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Nigeria, and Mexico. They also call the tidal coasts of South Florida home. While they’re one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, mangrove forests also are one of the most threatened. Unless we take drastic and immediate action to protect and restore mangroves, it’s estimated that we’ll lose these critical ecosystems by 2100.
The world would be a very different place without mangroves and estuaries. To help protect these important ecosystems from the effects of ocean pollution, we have captains and crews cleaning the ocean and coastlines, including mangrove forests, seven days a week. By purchasing the Limited Edition Marine Nursery Bracelet, you’ll pull a pound of trash while helping protect and restore the mangrove forests and estuaries that many baby sea animals call home.
Many ocean species nest or give birth in mangroves, including manatees, seabirds, sharks, corals, shellfish, crustaceans, and countless types of fish. Baby sea animals grow up sheltered by the mangroves until they’re ready to venture out to the reefs or deep ocean. Because they’re home to so many species’ babies, mangroves are considered the nurseries of the sea and one of the biggest contributors to the ocean’s biodiversity.
These plants are also intricately tied to the sustainability of our fisheries and global food security. A lot of the seafood we eat, like grouper, redfish, snapper, and shellfish start life among mangroves. Many of the world’s fish catches are either directly or indirectly dependent on mangrove forests for survival.
Mangroves have a dense root system that traps sediment flowing downriver and off land. The buildup of this sediment acts as a natural breakwater, helping to stabilize entire coastlines and prevent erosion caused by tides and storms. However, their well-developed “trap” system means they’ve also become a repository for plastic and trash flowing from land-based sources. Once tangled in the roots, plastic cannot escape. It becomes more tightly packed with each tidal cycle, displacing nests and baby sea animals that rely on their shelter to survive.
Mangroves also protect homes, property, and infrastructure from flooding caused by strong storms. It’s estimated that the presence of mangroves reduces wave heights by as much as 50 percent. Coastal damage caused by large storms like hurricanes and typhoons are more severe in areas where mangroves have been cleared. Entire mangrove forests are being cut down to build communities that can be, and have been, completely washed away without their protection.
Mangroves even protect coral reefs and seagrass beds, other critical ecosystems, from being smothered in sediment. Coral reefs are another barrier against waves and currents that would otherwise erode the shoreline. When they are destroyed, stronger waves and currents reach the coast.
This month, we’re partnering with Conservation International, a member of the Global Mangrove Alliance, to offer the green and tan Limited Edition Marine Nursery Bracelet. Each bracelet purchased pulls a pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines and helps protect estuaries and mangroves, the nurseries of the sea.