Anyone interested in biology (and if you’re on this site, I bet you are) can’t help but be fascinated by mangroves. Here’s a selection of photographs that I took in Mauritius that shows a mangrove thicket at its best. My first picture is of a fully-grown specimen emerging from an area of rocky substrate. I’m not entirely sure of the species, but I think this is Rhizophora mucronata. Mauritius does not have many species of mangroves, so it makes ID a little easier. Trees of this size play a huge role in protecting shorelines from storms. You can also see many younger plants. In the image above you get a better view of the young plants amidst the older tree’s roots; being somewhat shaded, these young plants will grow quite slowly. Deep, dark and impenetrable: this mass of roots is quickly becoming filled with organic matter and silt, you can see how mangroves are able to ‘create’ land. This shot really shows how mangroves ‘do what they do’. These plants are several years old and are putting out stabilizing roots that are already helping to collect silt. Here’s one of the real secrets to the success of mangroves, the propagule. Often incorrectly referred to as a seed, these are entire plants, that fell from their parent trees and are ready to develop into all new mangroves. Propagules’ ability to survive at sea varies by species, but they can travel for hundreds of miles in favorable conditions, though many fall and fetch up close to their parents. Within days, roots will emerge and the propagule will be dragged upright, as a shoot begins to form from the top. And finally, a new mangrove stand in the foreground, with an existing thicket in the rear.