Mangroves are the basis of the estuary's food chain and are important nurseries for fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Seventy-five percent of the game fish and ninety percent of the commercial species in south Florida are dependent on mangrove ecosystems. These systems provide food for a large number of marine organisms such as snook, snapper, tarpon, jack, sheepshead, red drum, trout, oysters and shrimp.
Mangrove forests also provide valuable habitat. Mangrove branches are rookeries, or nesting areas, for large coastal birds such as brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills. Mangrove roots provide habitat for oysters, crabs, juvenile fish and barnacles.
Mangrove swamps, with their specialized root systems, help prevent erosion and filter out pollution. They help protect Florida's uplands from storm winds, waves, and floods.
Water Management District
Alafia River Basin Board
Hillsborough River Basin Board