Mangrove Mangrove MartiniqueMangrove Mangrove Martinique
©Mangrove Mangrove Martinique|Shutterstock
The mangroveA unique ecosystem

The Mangrove in Martinique

Mangroves are coastal forests, in places sheltered from tidal swings. Essential for ecological balance, they have a role in maintaining coastal water quality, protecting the coastline, providing refuge and nursery for many species and regulating atmospheric gases. These fragile wetlands are threatened by climate change and human pressures.

In Martinique, it represents more than 2,000 hectares, i.e., 6% of the forest space, including 1200 hectares in Génipa Bay, whose mangrove represents 65% of the island’s mangroves. It extends from Fort de France to Trois Ilets. The other mangroves are located mainly in Trinité, Robert, François, Le Diamant, Le Marin and Sainte-Anne.

The different types of mangroves
  • The seaside mangrove, in permanent contact with the sea, consisting exclusively of red mangroves(Rhizophora mangle).
  • The shrub and forest mangroves, moving away from the coast, these two mangroves occupy the muddy soils of the coast. The shrub mangrove consists primarily of red mangrove. The forest mangrove is composed of red mangroves and black mangroves(Avicennia germinans). Between these types of mangroves, one can find dry wood pond.

The mangrove

An essential ecosystem

Long a victim of a bad image associated with swamps, they are nonetheless clean places that do not give off odors when they are healthy. They are ecosystems that support an entire population of fishes, mollusks and plants.

Thanks to their roots, they help stabilize and protect shorelines. By absorbing wave energy, they protect shorelines and natural and inhabited coastal areas (the best weapon against tsunamis!). They are also nurseries, nursery and feeding areas for many marine species, a habitat for crabs and mollusks but also a refuge for birds. In addition, they contribute to the filtration and retention of pollutants in the water and thus play a role in maintaining the quality of marine waters, avoiding in particular too much turbidity in the water, which is harmful to corals. The mangrove is a carbon sink and thus helps fight global warming.

A specific fauna
  • The fiddler crab or “Sé ma fot” (uca maracoani) digs holes in the mangrove silt to aerate the soil. It is a key player in the survival of mangroves.
  • The cirie crab (callinectes sapidus) is a swimming crab that can be observed in shallow seagrass beds, shores and lagoons.
  • The mangrove crab or zagaya (aratus pisonii)lives on the roots of mangroves, feeds on leaves, bark and algae.
  • The land crab (cardisoma guahumi)lives at night, digs burrows, feeds on plants. The capture, sale and purchase of this species are prohibited from July 15 to February 15.
  • The mantu crab or bearded crab (ucides cordatus) whose color varies depending on its habitat. It feeds on the decomposing mangrove litter. It is captured especially during the period of Easter and Pentecost. It is protected from July to September.
  • Birds: they feed on fish and insects, helping to maintain the ecosystem. We see the yellow warbler, the carrion, the great frigatebird, the manioc cuckoo, the green heron, the great egret, the snowy egret
  • Fish : adults come to feed while juveniles grow up. One encounters the barracuda, the mulet, the pisquette, the juvenile blue surgeonfish, the four-eyed butterfly, thesmall diodon
  • Mollusks : The petroleum mangrove oysters and the flat oysters attached to the roots of mangroves filter water.
  • Insects : the dragonfly, an indicator of good mangrove health.

While the mangrove of Martinique is partially protected today, man has, over the last few years, enormously reduced the surface area of coastal forest, mainly for economic reasons: construction of infrastructures (port of Fort-de-France, airport of Lamentin, marinas, roads…), commercial zones, farms and tourist complexes “feet in the water”

The pink mangrove

The Diamond Pink Mangrove has been attracting a crowd of curious people for the past few years. It is a bacterium, Microalga Dunaliella Salina, that turns the color of mangrove ponds into bright pink. Although the algae is not dangerous, it is a testament to global warming because it thrives in times of severe drought. In a wet space, it is an anomaly.