Mangroves are the nurseries of many tropical sea areas.
A buffer zone between land and sea, these areas play host to myriads of animals in the warm seas around the world. Mangrove areas provide critical habitat for hundreds of species of fish, as well as invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals. Many coral reef fish spend their young lives seeking the shelter of the thick tangle of roots of various mangrove tree species. Life on the open reef can be filled with danger, but among the protection of the mangroves they can grow up without fear of large prey fish.
Last time I was in the Cayman Islands I explored a couple of different mangrove habitats. Spending several hours exploring shallow marginal areas of water is pure joy for me. Aesthetically there is quite a similarity to some of the swampy margins of lakes I explore closer to home, just with much different species of course. In these particular mangrove areas I saw many juvenile fish species. Included were Four-eyed Butterflyfish, Grey Angelfish, Schoolmaster, Barracuda, Blue lined Snapper, Grunts, Ocean Surgeonfish, Silversides, Stoplight Parrotfish, Seargent Majorfish and more.
In one of the channels I was snorkeling in there has reportedly been a Tiger Shark spotted in the past. Quite a few sharks come into the shallow waters to drop their babies. With this in the back of my mind I always had my eyes in th eback of my head open, hoping to see one. At one point I was staring through my viewfinder and suddenly a big shadow appeared in my peripheral vision. My heart jumped for a second until I realised it was a giant tarpon rushing over to see who the intruder was. Next time I spend time in mangroves maybe I will be luckier and see some juvenile sharks.
To see more of these images go to the gallery MANGROVES.