Extreme mangroves

mangrove creek
Mangroves line Screw Creek where it enters Anderson’s Inlet

I grew up with mangroves as a normal feature of my coastal landscape but never really understood how abnormal that was for a Victorian, which is what I was at the time, until very recently.

It was pure luck, really. I grew up in and near a South Gippsland town half-way between Melbourne and Wilson’s Promontory and our nearest beach was Inverloch, on Anderson’s Inlet; and we stopped at Tooradin, on the northern edge of Westernport Bay, every time we went to Melbourne. I never knew that mangroves were only found along 2% of the Victorian coastline or that the mangroves in Corner Inlet near Wilson’s Prom were the world’s highest-latitude mangroves, at 38 deg. 45′ South. MangroveWatch Australia has all the details if you want more, but there isn’t a lot more to tell: there is only one Victorian species, Avicennia marina, known locally as the White Mangrove (and elsewhere as the Grey Mangrove; be wary of common names!), and even that one struggles to survive except in sheltered spots or to get to any height greater than a metre.

Looking across Sawtell’s Inlet, Tooradin, to the mangroves
leaves and yellow berries
Foliage and fruit of the White Mangrove at Tooradin

Fast forward to 1990 and my arrival in Townsville … mangroves all over the place, and again I took them from granted – because I had grown up with them, of course! But where Victoria had one species and a total area of a mere 60 km2, Queensland has 39 and 4000 km2. They are not all stunted little things, either – some reach 25 metres; once again, MangroveWatch has all the information but this time there is far more of it.

I have often written about them on Green Path, though usually as a background to the wildlife (big or little) they support – butterflies at Cape Hillsborough or Ross Creek, Rainbow Bee-eaters in the city, and so on. This link will take you to all references to them.

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