Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Mangroves are the most important part of the coastal habitat, which occur in patches along the intertidal zone. Mangroves play a vital role in the health of the marine ecosystem, because they filter and block sediments from the unstable substrates of the wadi and desert, and preventing siltation of seagrass beds and coral reefs. One of the most important roles of mangroves is to increase oxygen in the marine environment. They also eliminate pollutants such as sewage waste, pesticide run-off, and toxins in waste dumped in the wetlands.
To many of us, mangroves mean gnarled trees, biting insect and black, smelly, oozing mud. When in fact the quiet backwaters of mangrove area s are places where young fish are able to find protection and shelter from large predators. These areas are used as a nursery and spawning grounds for some species of fish e.g. Garfish, Bream, Mullet, Prawns, and crabs.
In Egypt, mangroves are found in sheltered waters with the enclosed soft-bottom habitats described above. The stands are usually protected by headlands, islands, or intertidal sand spits, as well as in shallow bays protected by a fringing coral reef.
Most of the Red Sea mangroves occur in the southern side of the red sea where the tide range is higher than in the central portions and where there is a wider continental shelf, protected areas, and freshwater. Avicennia marina, is the dominant species and is found starting with the area north of Hurghada and continuing south. A number of islands have dense thickets of mangroves, including Abu Minqar, Qiusoum, Safaga, El Qusair, and Wadi el Gemal.
These mangrove stands are important bird nesting sites for Sooty Gulls, Sooty Falcons, and Ospreys. Other characteristic birds include the Brown Booby, Reef Heron, Spoonbill, White-eyed Gull, Caspian Tern, and White Cheeked Tern.
The Red Sea mangrove communities have received relatively little scientific attention, although they are notably different from most mangroves in that they are euryhaline-metahaline and found on substrates of thin sediment over sub-fossil or raised coral rock in areas with high salinity and limited freshwater. This differs from most of the world's dominant mangrove ecosystems which occur in deep, muddy, brackish substrates with considerable freshwater inflow. The Red Sea is at the geographical limits for mangrove growth.
Author / Photos ©: Ahmed Fouad