We’re listening to the sound of the mangrove – coastal ecosystems found in temperate climates around the world. They’re like a living filter between the land and sea. Well, it’s been estimated that in areas like Latin America, they’ve been losing about four percent of their mangroves every year – primarily to shrimp farms. Well, it turns out the loss of mangroves not only hurts the local environment – it’s bad for shrimp farming, too. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“Latin America is probably the worst case scenario for losses of this particular environment.”
Ivan Valiela is a professor of biology at Boston University’s Marine Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hall, Massachusetts.
“So much of the area of mangrove swamps have been converted to raise shrimps. And that’s a practice, which is, not really sustainable because it isn’t a complete life cycle pattern of growing shrimp. They actually get juveniles from the wild. And in Equador, for example, the population of wild shrimp have been so decimated that many of the shrimp farms have gone broke. They basically cannot be used after a roughly five-year span. They become just too noxious a place to raise shrimp. So they had to be abandoned; they had to move to new areas. So we need a lot more research to understand how to solve that, but also need a lot more information on mangroves swamp chemistry and biology, to understand a little bit about how to, for example, restore the areas that have been abandoned, how to make for a sustainable pattern of use of this environment, without at the same time damaging the ecological roles the mangrove swamps are playing for the waters.”
Please visit us on the web at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.
Around the world, mangroves are being destroyed to make room for shrimp farms, housing, and other forms of urban expansion. But the loss of a mangrove can have serious environmental consequences.
“What happens is that first of all, more of the land-derived materials – whether it’s sediment, or whether it’s heavy metals, or whether it’s nitrogen and phosphorus – will make it to the sea. And that means that probably water quality will be lower. In fact, in many places in the Australian Great Barrier reef, people are beginning to be concerned about the survival of certain coral species because of the changes going on, from not only urban sprawl, but also the destruction of mangroves forests on the shore. So there’s connections there that will certainly have consequences if we have reduced the subsidies that mangrove forests provide us.”
We’ll hear more on mangroves in future programs. Please visit us on the web at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.