Stanford Development Group is working with The Reef Ball Foundation and Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to create a large mangrove ecosystem on Maiden Island, Antigua. Red Mangroves will be imported from Florida and strategically planted around Maiden Island to enhance the marine ecosystem and complement the Reef Ball coral reef. This project is the world's largest total marine ecosystem restoration that includes joint coral reef and mangrove habitat restoration. Since coral reefs and mangrove habitats interact significantly from a biological perspective, the combination of these restoration techniques will yield a greater environmental benefit than either project done alone.
Photo Album of the Project (NEW!)
(Red Mangroves on Maiden Island 3 days after unloading and replanting)
Red Mangrove or 'Walking Mangrove' (Rhizophora mangle) was chosen for use on the island because it provides the best marine habitat for juvenile fish and marine life. The roots of the Red Mangrove look like legs walking into the water which is why it is sometimes call the 'Walking Mangrove.' Red Mangroves are commonly grown by nurseries and their habitat value is well documented and appreciated by environmentalists. To stabilize the seedlings (propagules) in the open ocean, the most common method is to use split PVC pipes driven into the ocean floor. Because the bottom composition varies greatly on Maiden Island, a variety of new methods are being used to stabilize seedlings including using prefabricated concrete Reef Balls as underwater "pots." The mangroves will be planted in areas that benefit aquatic life and in areas where they can provide a natural barrier to erosion.
2 year old Red Mangroves raised from seed and planted along a seawall in Manatee County, Florida by the Reef Ball Foundation. On Maiden Island, 2 year old plants rather than seedlings will be installed so that the restoration process is significantly faster.
Over 7,000 Red Mangroves are being imported into Antigua from Nova Southeastern University's mangrove nursery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Nova Southeastern component of the project is headed by Dr. Richard E. Dodge who is also in charge of the National Coral Reef Institute. Many recent scientific papers have been published about the interaction and larval dispersion amongst Mangrove and Coral Reef ecosystems.
Nova Southeastern Students and Staff are removing Red Mangroves from their nursery in Ft. Lauderdale to be shipped to Antigua.
The importing process includes treating the Red Mangroves with both a fungicide and insecticide at Nova Southeastern University and then shipping the in special climate controlled containers. Upon arrival in Antigua, they are inspected by customs and agricultural officials and when released they are placed in a special nursery area set up on Maiden Island by Stanford Development and the Reef Ball Foundation. After a grow out and acclimation period, they are transplanted to planned areas around Maiden Island. Over time, these mangroves will develop into a vast mangrove ecosystem for Antigua and will function together with the Reef Ball coral reefs to complete the marine ecosystem restoration on Maiden Island.
Above, Nova Southeastern Staff and Reef Ball Foundation supervisors dip the Red Mangroves into the solutions used to insure the plants do not carry harmful insects or fungus to Antigua. After dipping, they are bagged into sealed plastic bags for shipping.
The newly created mangrove habitat and will enrich the life on the reefs with an abundant supply of fish, lobster, and a great variety of marine life. As an added bonus, the mangroves will serve as natural filters to maintain excellent water quality for the reefs near Maiden Island. Stanford Development Company's attention to the complete ecosystem, rather than just individual components, has been one of the keys to the great success of the overall Maiden Island project.
Propagules of Red Mangrove. When ripe, these young seedlings detach from the parent tree and float in the estuary until a suitable substratum is contacted. Photo courtesy of C. Feller, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
New Propagule forming.
There are 3 types of mangroves (not counting Buttonwood) that can be grown in Antigua...Black, White and Red. Red is normally in the water or at the water's edge, next, at waters edge or on land, is the White Mangrove and the furthest back are usually the Black Mangroves. Whites may be planted on shore at Maiden island and will have value for erosion control but little fishery value except for their ability filter rain run-off. Blacks are slow growing and very difficult to plant as they are susceptible to fungus and other diseases and therefore will probably not be used on Maiden Island.
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