Red Mangrove Planting

Red Mangrove or 'Walking Mangrove' (Rhizophora mangle) are used by the Reef Ball Foundation in conjunction with reef restoration work because mangrove estuary systems  work together with reef systems with a complex web of interactions.  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.  

Planting Red Mangroves where they will form marine ecosystems within their roots usually occurs on the shorelines...often with significant waves and debris challenges so a very high percentage of planting in these zones has in the past lead to project failures.  The Reef Ball Foundation formed a special division to address this issue, and they have their own website at

Using up to five components, the Mangrove Solutions division can allow you to plant Red Mangroves in even the most challenging locations.  So no excuses any more, if you want to plant mangroves you can do it!

Note: Sea Grasses are now being planted to perform a similar function.  Planting seagrasses is not currently done by Reef Ball Foundation Volunteer Services Division due to the technical nature of sea grass planting.  We recommend you contact Seagrass Recovery, Inc. for more information.


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Case Study:
Maiden Island, Antigua 
Mangrove Habitat Restoration Project

Stanford Development Group worked 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 were imported from Florida and strategically planted around Maiden Island to enhance the marine ecosystem and complement the Reef Ball coral reef made in 2003-2004. 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 is yielding a greater environmental benefit than either project done alone.

Photo Album of the Project

(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 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 are 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 4,200 Red Mangroves were imported into Antigua from Nova Southeastern University's mangrove nursery in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and another 3,000 are planned. 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.

Mangrove Flower

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. 

Reef Ball Red Mangrove "Planter" (Lined with burlap to retain soil and with and optional



 fiberglass rebar anchoring rod pictured above). (Available in 10 sizes).

Mangrove Resources


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Need more information? Contact us:

John Walch
Coral Team Co-Leader 

Marjo Van Der Bulck
Coral Team Co-Leader

Sara Cirelli
Red Mangrove Team Co-Leader

Reef Ball Foundation, Inc., 
Volunteer Services Division

Georgia Office (Kathy Kirbo)
603 River Overlook Rd.
Woodstock, GA 30188 USA
Atlanta, GA 30188
770 752-0202

Florida Office (Todd Barber)
6916 22nd Street West
Bradenton, FL 34207
941 720-7549

Arizona Office (John Walch/Ocean Worlds)
15042 North Moon Valley Drive
Phoenix, AZ 85022



Todd Barber, Division Chair

Kathy Kirbo,
Executive Director


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Other Valuable Internal Reef Ball Links

            -Coral Reef Transplant Notes
            -Identified Hard Coral Diseases (The Coral Disease Page) offline