Plant Life in the Mangroves

Mangrooves taking root among the roots

These flowering plants grow in the intertidal zone between the low and high water marks. They live in one of the harshest environments on the planet, and have to survive in saltwater, with freshwater runoff, waterlogged soils and dry conditions at low tide. Mangroves can grow only in more sheltered places, such as in estuaries and along creeks where there are freshwater seeps, and where mud and silt hold nutrients.

Remarkably, unrelated species of mangroves have very similar adaptations. Most mangroves have pneumatophores, ‘breathing’ or aerial roots that absorb oxygen directly from the air, because they usually grow in waterlogged mud with low oxygen levels. To deal with the high salt environment, mangroves either prevent salt from entering their roots, or remove it using glands on their leaves. For example, the under side of the leaves of the common grey mangrove, Avicennia, have small deposits of salt.

Aerial roots hang from the top of the mangrove

Reproduction is difficult for mangroves because they grow in shifting mud. Some mangroves produce seeds and fruit that float and disperse away from the parent tree. Others have seeds that germinate in the fruit, so the seedling first develops attached to the parent, later to anchor and grow in the mud.

seedlings grow in the mud

Mangrove forests and woodlands are some of the most productive coastal ecosystems. They contain many microhabitats where a variety of crabs, snails and other molluscs live. Mangrove animals often have an exoskeleton or shell that prevents them drying out at low tide. Some, such as crabs, sift through the mud feeding on detritus, or decaying plant matter. Other animals feed directly on algae or mangrove leaves and seedlings. Juveniles of fish species such as the commercially important Sea Mullet swim from the open seas to develop in the mangroves. Very few terrestrial vertebrates live or feed in the mangroves, so the Water Mouse is a notable exception.

False Water Rat…Xeromys myoides

marine mouse or yirrkoo (Indigenous)

Although the Water Mouse was once called the False Water Rat, there is not much that is rat-like about this animal. Its name, Xeromys, means ‘dry’ because it lacks adaptations for swimming. While it can swim, its hind feet do not have the webbing of true aquatic rats. The Water Mouse is a small, dark grey mouse with white fur on its belly and spots on its back, and has small eyes. It lives in the mangroves and coastal wetlands of Queensland and the Northern Territory where it feeds on animals found in the mangroves at low tide. Semi-aquatic, it often sits in mangrove puddles, its water-repellent silky fur reducing the loss of body heat.

The Water Mouse lives in small scattered populations. It is nocturnal and is rarely seen, so no accurate count of numbers can be done. The animal’s mangrove and coastal wetland habitat has been extensively cleared and redeveloped, particularly in south-east Queensland, and the Water Mouse is now classified as a species vulnerable to extinction.

From 2000 to 2005, Queensland Museum scientists Dr Steve Van Dyck and Heather Janetzki studied some healthy Water Mouse populations living in mangroves near a canal estate development on the Gold Coast. Their mangrove habitat had been preserved, but by 2005 no Water Mice were being caught in live traps so the species was considered locally extinct. If there is a single cause of this extinction it is not yet known, but over time the scientists observed foxes, acid sulfate soils, spraying for mosquitoes, trampling of nests by cattle, and vehicles near the Water Mouse’s habitat.

Water Mouse, Xeromys myoides

Ooncooncoon Bay Russell Island

Sunrise Today...

Russell Island in Redland City is the biggest of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, situated between the mainland and North Stradbroke Island. The island is eight kilometres long (north-to-south) and nearly three kilometres wide. The channel separating it from the mainland is known as Main Channel and the channel separating it from North Stradbroke Island is known as Canaipa Passage. The Bay between Russell Island, Lamb Island and North Stradbroke Island was named Ooncooncoon Bay..the Bay of Swans

Ooncooncoon Bay Russell Island

The geological origin of these islands is shared with the Redland Peninsula: all have the characteristic fertile red soil which enabled the peninsula to be the market garden for Brisbane. Overlain on parts of the island’s red soil are more recent sediments, chiefly sand and mud from the mainland river deltas.

The middle of Russell Island contains Turtle Swamp, mainly heath land, and the southern part…

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Goompi Trail on Stradbroke Island

Dunwich township – Goompie

The Dunwich area was called Goompee or Coompee, from a word meaning pearl oyster. It has always been home to a sizeable indigenous population, as well as a seasonal visiting place for tribes from other areas. For the past 180 years it has also been the site of various European settlements, including a military/stores depot and convict outstation (1827-1831), a Catholic mission (1843-1846), quarantine station (1850-1864) and benevolent asylum (1866-1946).

In typical 19th-20th century fashion, many structures on the island were recycled. The stores depot buildings were re-used by the Catholic mission, and the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum structures that remained on the island when the asylum moved to Sandgate in 1946 have assumed new uses and can be found scattered around Dunwich and elsewhere on the island.


We had a talk and walk with Matt who explained the tools and their uses..


Rope and threads were made from the Fig tree, and also the Cottonwood tree. The leaves were also used in cooking and the flowers are edible


Fish traps caught the fish at high tide, and fishermen were able to catch the fish at low tide. Various leaves were wrapped around the fish before they were cooked. This area also has crabs and shellfish which were cooked or eaten raw.

Image result for Aboriginal fish traps Stradbroke Island

Many different fishing methods were used. These included multi-pronged spears, a range of nets, stone fish traps and brush weirs. Further north and to the south people used fish hooks. Poisons were used to stun fish in pools or traps where they could be easily caught. For example, the tape vine (Stephania japonica), called nyannum was used as a fish poison throughout the territory of the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast.

Fish hooks were made from shell and bone and fishing lines were made from a variety of fibres. Bark and dugout canoes were used in turtle and dugong hunting.


The red rocks are iron based, and when rubbed together create the red ochre that was used for traditional paintings, decoration and also as body paint for ceremonial purposes. White ochre was dug up, and there is also yellow ochre. These rocks are much prized and valued by artists as they create a strong durable paint.


Very Old and ancient trees line the shoreline at Dunwich. These trees provided bark, branches for tools and weapons, rope, medicines and also utensils and food.


Plants provided nutrients and were gathered by women and treated before use. The Pandamus had to be soaked to remove poisons before it was ground and used as food and many of the leaves were ground to a paste and eaten and seafood was the main food as this area is rich in sea life.

Curlews on Lamb Island

Curlews on the shores…

Sunrise Today...


The bush curlew who live at Lamb island seem to defy some of the descriptions I am reading online when looking for information to add here.

They may feed at night but they wander around all day and are always happy to come and eat scraps of meat or bread if it is offered. In fact they get accustomed to being fed and stand out there screaming until I appear and either feed them, or acknowledge their presence and go back inside.


They may live in the bush but the curlews at my place live under the house, had had their eggs under the house, and have lived under the house for as long as the neighbors have lived here, which is a very long time. When the young hatch, they wander around with the parents until the next mating time, when the young bird gets in the way…

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Morning with the Mangroves at The Point

Morning on the Point with the Mangroves

Sunrise Today...


The Point at low tide is rich with mangroves. This is a protected Nature Reserve and Sanctuary as these waters have dugong,  crabs, sea turtles and many species of fish and molluscs, as well as the mangroves.  The shoreline has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It was just mud, but now has been washed back to rocks with periodical shore drops during rains and heavy tides, and the mangroves stand splendid like a medieval forest of mystery at Low tide.

The mangroves have been here for many years. Some are very old indeed. The roots are exposed at low tide and so are the trees, which at high tide are submerged in the water.

High tide Mangroves

This was taken at High tide on the 17th December. The other mangroves were from the low tide this morning..the 18th of December 2012


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Every Picture Tells a Tale…The Silence of the Mangroves

The Silence of the Mangroves

Sunrise Today...

January 5, 2013 1:42 am / Leave a Comment / Edit


I have always been interested and fascinated by Mangroves since I started studying them as an Unit in a Horticultural Course I attempted at Geraldton TAFE many years ago. I gave up the course when I got bogged in all the Maths required to calculate things I did not understand, and kept the interest in plants that make adaptations for survival, namely Desert Plants and Mangroves.

Recently I went searching for more information because now I am living in the middle of a Mangrove National Park and  daily walking to the Point where I admire and photograph the mangroves there. These trees have to be over a 100 years old. They look old and are old and have been here since the water started to take over the land in the process called erosion. I have not been…

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Mangroves on Lamb Island Point

Lamb Island Mangroves…a story

Sunrise Today...

I am back on Lamb island…my home.


The Point is the tip nearest  Stradbroke Island which you can see ahead. When it is low tide like it is here, it looks as if you can walk across. Between Lamb and Stradbroke Island is a channel  used by yachts and boats so it is not as close as it appears nor as shallow.

Rocks and RootsThe shore is all rocks…white quartz, red crocks and some smaller ironstone black rocks that are magnetic. There are roots from the mangroves and the occasional driftwood or shell. Yesterday I found some green coral, and also some jellyfish. Often there are rocks with tiny oyster shells but the birds have already reached the oysters.


Mangroves live in this area with their roots out of the water when the water is low. They have adaptations for living in salt..shallow roots and breathing roots and mechanisms for ridding the…

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Mangrove Flats at Lamb island

Mangrove flats at Lamb Island

Sunrise Today...

When the tide is low, the rocky shore of Lamb Island with ancient mangroves twisted in beautiful shapes, gleam in the sunshine and glow in the evening light.

Queensland mangroves have always been affected by adverse natural climatic conditions that are manifest seasonally and annually in the first instance, and episodically with severe events. Various natural factors pose significant threats. Changing rainfall conditions result in expansion or contraction of mangrove areas depending on fluctuations in rainfall. Physical damage to foliage and stems is caused by severe wind and hail storms. Sea level rise results in zonal shift that replaces upland vegetation. Other influencing factors include: increased sea surface temperatures and decreased coastal frosts; insect infestations like caterpillar plagues result in significant defoliation inhibiting mangrove growth and survival; storm-wash wrack smothers breathing roots and trees die; and, erosion destabilizing trees and redeposition of fine sediments buries breathing roots to…

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Moreton Bay Wetlands

Black swans at Sunset
Russell Island Ooncooncoon Bay at Low tide

Moreton Bay Marine Park protects a vast array of marine habitats, plants and animals. Covering more than 3400km2 of open and sheltered waterways and dotted with islands, Moreton Bay Marine Park includes some of Australia’s premier wetlands. Extensive mangroves and tidal flats support and shelter fish, birds and other wildlife. Sandflats provide roosting sites for migratory birds and seagrass beds nurture fish, shellfish, dugong and turtles.

Moreton Bay Wetlands

In 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, representatives from 18 nations signed the Convention on Wetlands of International Significance (known as the Ramsar Convention) to stop global loss of wetlands, and to conserve and sustainably manage remaining wetlands. Moreton Bay is one of Australia’s largest sites listed under the Ramsar Convention.

The wetlands of Moreton Bay are extremely varied and range from perched freshwater lakes and sedge swamps on the offshore islands, to intertidal mudflats, marshes, sandflats and mangroves adjoining the bay’s islands and the mainland. This variety in habitats contributes to the bay’s biological diversity. The high diversity is also due to the location and climate of the bay; it supports tropical, subtropical and temperate wildlife species.

There are 11 declared Fish Habitat Areas (FHAs) in Moreton Bay

Pumicestone Channel…is located adjacent to Russell Island…and is rich i Seagrass,,

Seagrasses and Mangroves

The seagrass beds, mudflats and mangroves of Moreton Bay Marine Park provide food and habitat for a wide variety of marine life.

Seagrasses are flowering plants. Their closest relatives are lilies and orchids. Seagrasses need sunlight, clear water and nutrients—often obtained from nearby mangroves—to grow. The seagrasses between Russell Island and North Stradbroke Island and in southern Moreton Bay provide food and habitat for dugong, turtles, fish and crustaceans.

Sea grass at the bottom of Ooncooncoon Bay at Low tide

Mangroves  provide a nursery for fish, prawns and crabs, which form the basis of an important commercial and recreational fishery. Mangrove communities act as stabilisers, helping to reduce excessive sediment flow and decreasing the threat of erosion caused by currents and stream flow. Seven species of mangroves are found in the marine park.


The seagrass meadows of Moreton Bay Marine Park provide a vital feeding area for marine turtles. Species commonly seen in Moreton Bay include green turtles Chelonia mydas, loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta and hawksbill turtles Eretmochelys imbricatata. Leatherback turtles Dermochelys coriacea and flatback turtles Natator depressus are also irregular visitors.

Green turtles have an olive-green carapace (shell) and a relatively small head compared with the size of its body. Young green turtles are carnivorous, eating tiny marine animals, yet the adults are thought to be totally herbivorous, feeding on algae, seagrass and mangrove fruits. Females take 30 to 50 years to mature and only breed every two to eight years. Green turtles are listed as vulnerable under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Loggerhead turtles are listed as endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The carapace is dark brown, sometimes irregularly speckled with a darker brown. They occur in coral reefs, bays and estuaries in tropical and warm temperate waters off the coast of Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia and New South Wales. Loggerhead turtles are carnivorous, feeding mostly on shellfish, crabs, sea urchins and jellyfish.


Migratory shorebirds

About 32 species of migratory shorebirds including eastern curlews Numenius madagascariensis, grey-tailed tattlers Heteroscelus brevipes, red-necked stints Calidris ruficollis, ruddy turnstones Arenaria interpres, bar-tailed godwits Limosa lapponica and sandpipers visit Moreton Bay Marine Park each September to April.

Most of the shorebird species which visit Moreton Bay Marine Park’s intertidal flats are migratory species listed under the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) or the China Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA).

Most migrate from Arctic or sub-Arctic regions at the end of the breeding season, moving to the southern hemisphere and stopping to rest before the next stage of their long journey. When feeding here, migratory shorebirds are storing energy for their return trip north to breed again.

The migratory shorebirds prefer four main habitats—muddy intertidal flats with and without seagrass, sandy flats and coral rubble on islands in the middle of the bay. Mirapool sandflat, in the south-east of Moreton Island, is considered a vital roosting and feeding site for waders, particularly eastern curlews.

Major roosting and feeding sites for shorebirds include open sandy islands and beaches (mainly on Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island), saltpans and claypans scattered in and behind the mangrove fringe, freshwater marshes and mangroves.

Resident shorebirds

Moreton Bay has about 3500 resident shorebirds, representing 10 species. These birds breed in and around Moreton Bay. Some of the most recognisable species include the pied oystercatcher, the bush stone-curlew and the red-capped plover. The beach stone-curlew and the sooty oystercatcher are less common and are of international and national significance because ongoing disturbance has drastically reduced their numbers.

When it is time for resident shorebirds to breed, they build their simple nests just above the high-tide line of beaches and rocky shorelines. For this reason they are vulnerable to damage from vehicles driving above high tide lines and from people camping on undisturbed foredunes. Each year, many young shorebirds and some adults are killed due to beach traffic.

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