Along the East coast of Mauritius lies a very important, yet underrated ecosystem – mangroves! Mangroves are trees and shrubs which grow in tidal tropical areas benefiting from a freshwater runoff. They are specially adapted to this environment with an extensive root system to maximise gaseous exchange.
In Mauritius you can find just two of the 70+ species, both of which are part of the red mangroves family (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Rhizophora mucronata). They are particularly important to the fisheries with 70% of commercial fishes using mangroves during their juvenile stages as a nursery ground. In 2003 it was estimated mangroves cover 20km2 of Mauritius, and although much was cleared for development many mangrove propagation programmes have now taken place to restore and protect this environment.
Luckily for me Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita is located on the East coast and I have daily access to this incredible habitat. I have spent a great deal of my first month exploring the mangroves, learning about the plants and creatures which inhabit them. Entering only around the high tide allows the maximum depth which is still only between waist and knee high, however even this shallow water is home to plenty of marine life. I have seen great diversity in the fish and invertebrate species, although my favourite must be the juvenile boxfish who buzzes around. As part of my role as Marine Educator I get the exciting job of introducing this unique exploration to guests- Avid scuba divers are fascinated with the mangroves, peering in between each root, while the calm waters are perfect for novices as they can float through natural channels between the trees. In fact mangroves have something to offer to everyone!