Anissa’s Nature Field Note: Mangroves in Tai-O Village

Abstract: This semester I am taking a geography course on sustainable development. As part of our course requirement, students must go on a field trip to Tai-O a fishing site on the western side of Lantau Island.

Intro: In Tai-O, the community is known for its wetland where the main vegetation is mangroves that have grown as part of the history of salt basins that once inhabited the area. Mangroves are habitants of enclosed intertidal mud flats. Trees living in this habitat are called mangrove trees and looks like a lush area filled with greenery. In Hong Kong, there are eight native mangrove species. This nature area is unlike anything I’ve seen before!

What does this creature or plant look like?

Mangrove trees look like large shrubs densely populated within a swamp-like area. They are grown mostly in muddy areas and have roots, a thin tree trunk and green leaves. When you enter a wetland, you are immediately surrounded by lush mangroves trees. They are not that tall in high, but plentiful in abundance.

How did I feel when I saw it?

I was very surprised to witness a wetland park. I have never heard of one before coming to Hong Kong and having my geography professor be our tour guide was very informative. The area was serene and peaceful and I felt as if I was completely surrounded by bushes and low waters. All you hear are nature sounds and see green foliage everywhere!

Where does it live?

Mangroves usually inhabit tropical and subtropical areas. They grow in low tidal areas and muddy areas.  The term mangrove is applied to plants that contain certain characteristics that allow them to survive in saltwater. They can grow as well in freshwater as in saltwater. They grow very quickly and need full sunlight to grow on their own.

How does it use its environment to survive?

Mangroves are tropical trees that require of 65 degrees Fahrenheit to grow. Mangrove trees are “facultative halophytes”, which means that they can grow in both saltwater and freshwater. However, they are usually outgrown in freshwater environments which is why they are most abundant in salt water areas, where the competition for growth is low. Moreover, they need plenty of sunlight, so being in saltwater eliminates competition from other plants that might be bigger than mangroves.

What can harm this creature? Are we worried about it?

Mangroves live in very stressful environment, which is why other plants do not usually grow along with mangrove trees. But when other salt-tolerant plants do grow, they usually out compete mangroves above tide lines and ruining mangroves trees chances for survival. These areas are very susceptible to pollution from oil or human clearance for land use. What we are most worried about in Hong Kong is the government and communities getting rid of wetlands and clearing mangrove dominated areas for tourism. Because mangroves are easily grown, the government can grow mangroves anywhere they choose, but this ruins the natural species that originally inhabited the area.

House on stilts in Tai-O

Houses on stilts

Mangroves in Mud

Mangroves

Mangroves in Wetland

Mangroves

Walking through the mangroves

Walking through the mangroves

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