The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail has many miles of lush mangrove forests. Besides providing shade and blocking views of U.S. 1 while you walk or bike down the trail, the mangroves are an important ecosystem in the Florida Keys.
Many people visit the Florida Keys and admire the beautiful, clear water. Mangroves filter water and aid in maintaining water quality and clarity. The extensive root system in the mangrove forests provide protection for many fish, crustaceans and shellfish. They are also a food source for many different marine species. For birds such as the: great white heron, reddish egret, white crowned-pigeon, hawks and osprey, the mangroves provide areas to nest as well as obtain food.
Mangroves help protect the shoreline by serving as a storm buffer and reducing wind and wave action in shallow areas. They also help prevent erosion by stabilizing the shoreline. This is important in areas like the Florida Keys where hurricanes are a real threat.
In the Florida Keys the mangroves you will likely see are red mangrove, black mangrove and white mangrove. There are about 80 different types of mangroves.
While you walk the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage trail, be sure to try and spot a few of the inhabitants of the mangrove swamps but be careful not to disturb them.