Restoring damaged mangroves to protect our shoreline

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

The mangroves kept Ian from doing more damage to Southwest Florida. That’s part of what makes them a critical part of our ecosystem. They also create a habitat for our fish and wildlife.

But Ian left the mangroves in bad shape, making it hard for them to grow again. They were left gray and weak by the storm.

Now two groups are working together to restore them.

“They play a huge role in protecting our shorelines from storm surge and from storms,” said Captain Chris Wittman, Co-Founder of Captains for Clean Water. “We saw that with hurricanes in the past, including hurricane Ian, and the areas where there was good, connected mangrove habitat, mitigated a lot of the surge and a lot of the wave action.”

But after protecting our coastline, we now know, it was more than just the leaves that were stripped. It was the seeds as well.

In order to restore the mangroves and give mother nature a boost, Captains teamed up with the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation’s Coastal Watch. And, you can help too.

“We’re asking anyone who wants to help all the way from Charlotte Harbor down to Marco, to help us collect these mangrove propagules, these little baby trees, so they can be planted out where they’re needed,” said Kealy McNeal, SCCF’s Coastal Watch Director.

Don’t collect mangroves that are connected to the trees, or ones that are cracked, dried or broken in half. You can find healthy ones on the beaches, floating on the water or stacked up on the seawall or boat ramps. Once you have your healthy ones, take them to one of their four drop-off sites:

  • SCCF Bailey Homestead, 1300 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957
  • Marine Max, 14030 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919
  • Marina Mike’s, 19300 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33908
  • Bay Water Boat Club, 5124 Bonita Beach Rd., SW, Bonita Springs, FL 34134

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