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Mangrove forests, which cling to tropical coasts, only make up a small portion of the planet’s surface, but they are so vital to so many people. These delicate ecosystems are now under unprecedented threat from coastal expansion, unsustainable aquaculture, and sea level rise. Read more about why we need to conserve mangroves and delve into the case study of Tsunamis and Mangroves in this article.
One of the richest repositories of biological and genetic variation on the planet is found in mangroves. Additionally, 80% of the world’s fish harvests depend on mangroves, and 90% of marine species spend part of their lives in this habitat. Mangroves and the biota that they support have been discovered as viable sources of new and natural medicines. On the other hand, the scientific community considers this ecosystem to be among the most endangered biomes in the world because of previous human involvement and ongoing climate change.
Over the past two decades, several nations have already lost their enormous mangrove riches. Additionally, the loss of mangrove habitat may permanently harm the ecological services provided to humanity. It is now imperative to preserve the priceless ecology in order to keep the coastal environment stable and healthy.
Every ecosystem offers both functions necessary for maintaining life and additional useful services, many of which are connected to the well-being of humans. One such crucial ecosystem is the mangrove, but strangely, it wasn’t until 1978 that the scientific community started to recognize the significance of mangrove wetlands. In order to evaluate the significance of the priceless system, the scientific committee on oceanic research of UNESCO organized a working group on mangrove ecology around that time. Mangroves are then continually investigated after that.
According to reports, many marine species spend a portion of their lives in tropical mangroves, which serve as a food source for a variety of marine and terrestrial creatures, including people. Mangroves are noted for their abundant supply and diversity of shrimp, crabs, molluscs, and fish. Commercially significant fish and shrimp species are known to have their principal nursery grounds in mangroves.
Nearly every alternate year, cyclones impact the tropical coastal regions. Furthermore, data points to a consistent rise in cyclone severity and storm frequency caused by human-induced global warming. It goes without saying that tropical storms of this type seriously harm the nearby biodiversity and other economic resources along the shore.
The mangroves on the shore serve as a natural defense against wind, waves, water currents, and other natural disasters. Mangroves have been shown in several studies to be able to lessen the effects of cyclones, typhoons, and tidal surges in various tropical locales.
Heavy metals and other contaminants are stored in healthy mangroves. Heavy metals, which enter the system through runoff and industrial effluents, have the extraordinary capacity to collect and immobilize the mangrove vegetation and soil by nature. As previously stated, healthy mangroves serve as a sink for heavy metals, but declining mangroves may serve as a source of heavy metals. The central nervous system, kidneys, and circulatory systems of all higher creatures, including humans, will be affected by the stored or deposition of heavy metals since they reach the biological system through the food chain.
Mangroves and other coastal environments are prospective locations for novel medications. The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a list of 20,000 medicinal plants that may be found in mangrove forests worldwide. In poor nations, more than 80% of the populace relies only on medicinal herbs for their treatment. For instance, India uses approximately 2,000 distinct types of plant-based medicines to treat a variety of ailments. For example, B. gymnorrhiza is used to treat diarrhoea; R. mucronata to treat blood pressure; Acanthus ilicifolius to treat asthma, leprosy, and rheumatism; Arthrocnemum Indicum to treat snake bites; and Sesuvium portulacastrum to treat ulcers, bacterial, and viral infections.
Mangroves are renowned for their abundance of vegetation and wildlife, including a total of 4,011 species supported by the Indian mangrove environment alone. However, a complete list of the species present in mangroves is not yet available. 11 shipworms in Malaysia, 32 copepods in India, 39 gastropod molluscs in Australia, 29 bivalves in Atlantic Colombia, 107 nematodes in Malaysia, 102 herbivorous insects in Singapore, 147 species of sponges in the Caribbean, 184 birds in Queensland, Australia, and at least 600 species of fish in the Indo-West Pacific are the species with the highest numbers recorded from mangrove habitats of individual sites or countries.
Pichavaram Mangrove Forest is located in Tamil Naidu. The hamlets of T.S.Pettai, Therkku Pichavaram, Vadakku Pichavaram, MGR Nagar, Kalaingar Nagar, and Meenavar Colony were shielded from the tsunami’s wrath by the Pichavaram mangrove forest.
These hamlets include roughly 1228 families in total and 6191 people overall. Between 100 and 1000 meters separate these hamlets from mangroves. These hamlets have not experienced property damage or flooding from the sea. Four MGR Nagar ladies, who were fishing close to the sea, were swept away and perished. The tsunami’s effect uprooted mangrove trees in rows that were near the water, but nothing else was harmed.
It appears that mangrove forests lessened the effects of the tsunami in two ways: first, the friction created by the dense mangrove forest greatly reduced the tsunami water’s velocity after it entered the mangroves, and second, the volume of water that reached a point was significantly reduced because the tsunami water, after entering the mangroves, was scattered to all the canals and creeks that are present throughout the mangroves. Many fishermen who were fishing in the adjacent sea moved into the mangrove water when they saw a large wave of between 10 and 15 feet approaching the beach.