Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ding Darling

I remember my Grandfather picking me up at the airport on our first trip to Sanibel Island.  I was 9 years old and we were missing school for a whole week to go to Florida and stay with them.  All I wanted to do was go to pool, but he insisted on driving through the Ding Darling Wildlife Reserve.  At the time, I was bored and hot in my long sleeve dress, but now that I am older, I finally understand why my grandfather was so in love with the reserve and Sanibel Island in general.  It is a barrier island that has set aside over 30% of its land mass to a nature preserve and every beach is natural and unmanicured.  It provides a glimpse of the life in the sea that we sometimes forget is there when staying at resorts.

Notes on the mangrove and horseshoe crab
On a recent trip, we went on a guided trolley ride through the Ding Darling where I learned more about the island I have been visiting for so many years.  Some of the interesting things I learned about mangroves:

  • Red mangroves grow in the lowest, wettest conditions and prop their roots up above the water to breathe through pores in their bark during low tide.
  • Black mangroves grow slightly higher up in elevation and breathe through snorkel like straws that stay above the water.  Their leaves glisten in the sun as they rid themselves of the salt from the water.
  • 50% of hurricane winds are blocked by mangroves and their roots help to dissipate wave energy
  • Mangroves store salt in vacuoles and then shed them in their leaves.

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