What are Mangroves?

Living by the water has its advantages! Seeing the birds, dolphins and other wildlife of Tampa can be partially credited to the mangroves. These true Florida natives are a group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone. Their roots even act as a filtration system keeping out most of the salt while supporting an incredible diversity of creatures. When you sail on our catamaran you’ll see some of this wildlife! Learn more about this part of our gorgeous bay…

About Mangroves

While some mangroves thrive in salty environments because they can get freshwater from saltwater (they secrete the excess salt through their leaves in case you’re wondering). While others, like those found in the Tampa Bay area, tend to block some of the absorption of salt at their roots.

The habitat created by these plants allows for many creatures to call them home either living in the roots or branches of the mangroves. Mangrove branches are considered rookeries (AKA nesting areas) for beautiful coastal birds such as brown pelicans and white ibis.

Growing within the reach of the Tampa Bay tides in the oxygen-poor, salty soil is a woody tree or shrub. Mangroves have evolved impressive adaptations that allow them to survive salty, muddy, and extremely hot conditions that would kill most plants. Their complex root system holds them upright despite being submerged in water.


Cat Fun fact: There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees!


Florida has nearly 470,000 acres of mangrove forests contributing to the overall health of our coastal zone. Mangrove roots act like a trap! This ecosystem traps and cycles many kinds of organic material, chemicals, and nutrients.

You can see these mangroves thriving in St. Pete and Tampa Bay waters on our JP Cat catamaran cruise.

Why are Mangroves important?

Did you know mangroves are tremendously vital to our wellbeing and the health of the Earth? They are among the greatest biologically complex and ecosystems on the planet.

  • The wood is used to build
  • Mangrove products are used for soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, insecticides
  • They have medicinal properties
  • They are home to crabs, shrimp, fish, birds, monkeys, snakes, lizards, frogs, even Bengal tigers!
  • They can absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere
  • They naturally absorb influxes of water to keep land from flooding waters from storms

Which makes it so cool they call Tampa Bay home! Regardless of their vital importance, mangroves are disappearing at a distressing rate around the world. Coastal development, aquaculture rice, and palm oil farming, and industrial activity are quickly taking the place of these salt-tolerant shrubs and the ecosystems they support. In fact, over the past 100 years, Tampa Bay has lost over 44% of its coastal wetlands acreage; including mangroves.

Mangrove Restoration & Protection

People all over the world are attempting to restore mangrove forests. One method has proven most successful for mangrove restoration. There was an experiment done here in Florida in 1986 by Robin Lewis. He discovered that seedlings thrive the greatest when they are immersed for 30 percent of the time and dry for the remaining 70.

If you have a mangrove habitat on your property you should read up on the Florida regulations in place to protect them.

Sail St. Pete and See the Mangroves

Tampa Bay has mangroves all around. They serve as a stunning part of the backdrop of dolphins jumping while on our St. Pete boat tour. If you don’t live near mangroves and would like to get out on the water and explore these truly magnificent trees book a cruise. Enjoy the downtown skyline, dolphins at play, and more of beautiful Tampa Bay onboard the JP Cat.

Sailing daily! Call today (727) 310-7883 to book your tour or reserve a spot online.