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History Mumbai Historical records indicate that there were several islands around Mumbai during 1670.

However, the Britishers, who were ruling the country identified the importance of these islands for commercial purpose. They deforested the fringing mangroves and reclaimed these islands into one continuous landmass, which later came to be known as "Greater Bombay". Since then the developmental and bsequently population pressure rapidly increased and being the coastal area, it took the toll of mangrove land. During the process of deforestation and reclamation, a few mangrove patches are still left in the heart of the city, which proves that today's megacity had a luxuriant past of mangrove forests (fig). Major mangroves are seen today in Mumbai along the Vasai Creek, Thane Creek, Manori and Malad, Mahim - Bandra, Versova, Siwari, Mumbra - Diva and few more places.

Importance of Mangroves for Mumbai

Mangroves represent the spirit of Mumbai they are plucky survivors. But each day, millions of citizens in Mumbai pass these hardy plants imagining they are little more than dirty, muddy weeds growing pointlessly along the shoreline. How little people understand just how important mangroves are to the quality of life of the citizens of Mumbai. By trapping silt, mangroves maintain the integrity of Mumbais shoreline. This is a vital service to the city of Mumbai as it is very prone to erosion, having been built on reclaimed land that is battered by the sea on all three sides. The recent rains in Mumbai and the disaster that followed demonstrated the consequence of tampering with the ecology of fragile ecosystems like mangroves. Had Mumbais Mithi river and Mahim creek mangroves not been destroyed by builders, fewer people would have died and the property damage would have been dramatically less. The Koli community in Mumbai worships mangroves because they know that these are breeding and nursery grounds for the marine organisms on which their sustenance depends.

Mangrove community of Mumbai In the early nineties, perhaps over 37 sq. km. of mangroves existed in Mumbai, largely in the Thane creek, Mahim, Versova, Gorai and Ghodbunder, with sporadic patches in places such as Bandra, Malabar Hill and Colaba. Mumbai has probably lost 40 per cent of all its mangroves in

the past decade or so, largely because of reclamation for housing, slums, sewage treatment and garbage dumps. Fortunately, thanks to the Godrej family, we still have excellent mangrove forests in Vikhroli (Link). Around 20 out of the 35 species of true mangroves found in India have been identified along the Maharashtra coast and 15 species of these are found in Mumbai. Because of the high salinity of the soil, something like 60 per cent of Mumbai mangroves comprise Avicennia marina. Nor surprisingly this species also tolerates pollution including heavy metals such as lead, mercury and chromium, all found in significant concentrations in the Mithi river.

Mangrove Ecology........... Where do Mangroves occur The richest mangrove communities occur in tropical and sub-tropical areas, i.e., between the 30N and 30S latitudes where the water temperature is greater than 24C in the warmest month, where the annual rainfall exceeds 1250mm and mountain ranges greater than 700m high are found close to the coast. Mangroves are found practically in almost all the continents, excepting Europe, the Arctic and Antarctic. Luxuriant patches of mangroves are found on all the other continents but the best mangroves are found in Asia, especially in India and Bangladesh the Sunderbans are the largest mangrove forest in the world both in size as well as biodiversity The total area of mangroves in India is about 6,740 sq. km, which is about 7% of the world's total area of mangroves. Of the total mangroves 80% are present along the east coast, mostly forming the Sunderbans, Bhitarkanika and the Andaman & Nicobar mangroves. The Gangetic Sunderbans is about 4,000 sq. km whereas Andaman & Nicobar is about 700 sq km. Besides, large rivers like Mahanadi, Krishna, Cauveri, Godavari also harbour major mangroves in their estuarine regions. The remaining 20% mangroves are scattered on the west coast from Kutch to Kerala. The reason for such a restricted mangrove cover is the peculiar coastal structure and the nature of estuaries formed by the relatively small and non-perennial rivers except Narmada and Tapi. How do they establish? Under the right conditions like the formation of a mud-flat, growth of mangroves is initiated. Stabilization of mud-flats is a preliminary process in the establishment of mangroves. Pioneer plant species initiate this process. The roots of these plants help in binding the soil and also help the establishment of micro-organisms which further help in stabilizing the area. Stabilization starts from the land side and gradually shifts towards the sea. The pioneer plants are species like Porterasia coarctata and some members of the Cyprus family. These are slowly replaced by other mangrove plants and then these mangroves gradually spread towards the sea. Once mangroves grow, the submerged banks are fully stabilized. Then the plants slowly reach a stage which is called the climax vegetation. A climax vegetation of mangroves is represented by the complete circle of life where there are different species of plants, animals (both terrestrial and aquatic) and micro-organisms forming an ecosystem called the tropical salt marsh or the mangrove ecosystem. In case the sediments are not stabilized, submerged banks are washed out. Thousands of deltas are formed and washed out every year before they can be stabilized. In the Gangetic delta this situation is quite common. Zonation in Mangroves Mangal along a tropical bay characteristically shows zonation. In India this zonation may be very

distinctive (east coast of India) or merging (west coast of India). A very broad and general distinction would be:1. Proximal Zone (Front mangroves) This zone is towards water front, subject to regular tidal effect where intensity of soil accumulation and inundation is a continuous process. The mangrove species in this zone are specially adapted with stilt roots, prop roots for stability and anchorage. Main species with these features are Rhizophora apiculata and Rhizophora mucronata. On rocky and coral reef substrata, Avicennia Spp, Sonneratia Caseolaris are also found. Both Avicennia and Sonneratia produce pneumatophores. 2. Middle Zones (Mid mangroves) Above the Rhizophora/ Avicennia line luxuriant group of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, B. Cylindrica, Lumnitzera racemosa, L. littoralis, Ceriops tagal and Aegiceras corniculatum occur. Ceriops and Bruguiera develop a strong hold fast in the form of knee roots or bent roots as a special adoption for supporting the erect bole. 3. Distal Zone (Back mangroves) Towards island area mangroves like Excoecaris agallocha, Heritiera littoralis and Xylocarnus spp occur. Both Heritiera and Xylocarpus produce buttresses. Generally the salinity is on lower side in this zone occurring towards hill sides where run off of fresh water is for a prolonged period. The duration of tidal submersion is low in this zone compared to front mangroves.

However, the zonation in mangroves is not so simple and varies from place to place. Every species has its own level of salinity tolerance. Estuaries on east coast show distinct zonation. The high salinity range on the east coast estuaries may be the principal reason for distinct zonation there. The range and force of tidal action also play a determinant role in creation and maintenance of zones as distribution of seeds or propagules is influenced by tidal action. Also, tides do influence the salinity in an estuary. Mangrove Adaptations Mangrove plants live in hostile environmental conditions such as high salinity, hypoxic (oxygen deficient) waterlogged soil strata, tidal pressures, strong winds and sea waves. To cope up with such a hostile environment mangroves exhibit highly evolved morphological and physiological adaptations to extreme conditions. Do mangroves need salt? The answer is no. Mangroves are facultative halophytes, i.e., the presence of salt in the environment is not necessary for the growth of mangroves and they can grow very well in freshwater. One particular advantage to growing in a salty environment is the lack of competition! Only a limited number of plants have invested evolutionary energy into adapting to intertidal conditions. In the optimum conditions of a tropical rainforest, diversity is great and competition fierce. How do Mangroves cope with salt

Coping with salt The first line of defense for many mangroves is to prevent much of the salt from entering by filtering it out at root level. Some species can exclude more than 90 percent of salt in seawaters (Rhizophora, Ceriops, Bruguiera species are all salt-excluders.) Another method is the retention of water in the leaves giving rise to leaf succulence in many species, viz., Sonneratia apetala, S. alba, Lumnitzera recemosa, Salvadora persica etc. These species show remarkably high concentration of salts stored in their tissue. To avoid the toxic effects of salts, these plants absorb a large quantity of water for dilution of salt. The leaves of many mangroves have special salt glands, which are among the most active salt-secreting systems known. It is quite possible to see and/or taste the salt on the leaf surfaces of species, which choose this method. (Examples of salt-secretors include Avicennia, Sonneratia and Acanthus). Fourth method of coping with salt is to concentrate it in bark or in older leaves which carry it with them when they drop. (Lumnitzera, Avicennia, Ceriops and Sonneratia species all use this) . Specialized Root System in Mangroves Specialized Root System The major plant species forming the mangrove ecosystem have aerial roots, commonly prop roots or even stilt roots (Example: Rhizhophora spp). Stilt roots serve, of course, to anchor the plants, but also are important in aeration, because the mangrove mud tends to be anaerobic. Rhizophora spp (Red mangroves) have prop roots descending from the trunk and branches, providing a stable support system. Other mangrove species, including the white mangroves (A. marina) obtain stability with an extensive system of shallow, underground cable roots that radiate out from the central trunk for a considerable distance in all directions: pneumatophores extend from these cable roots.

Breathing Roots (Pneumatophores) : Special vertical roots, called pneumatophores, form from lateral roots in the mud, often projecting above soil (to a height of 20-30 cms, e.g. Avicennia, Sonneratia ) permitting some oxygen to reach the oxygen-starved submerged roots. Roots also can exhibit development of air cavities in root tissues, designs that aid oxygenation of the tissues. The density, size and number of pneumatophores vary per tree. They are green and contain chlorophyll. Stilt roots are the main organs for breathing especially during the high tide. They are very common in many species of Rhizophora and Avicennia (Avicennia marina and Avicennia offficinalis). The stilt roots of Rhizophora mucronata extend more than a meter above the soil surface and contain many small pores (lenticels) which at low tide allow oxygen to diffuse into the plant and down to the underground roots by means of open passages called aerenchyma. The lenticels are highly hydrophobic and prevent water penetration into the aerenchyma system during the high tide. In Brugeira and Ceriops they become hollow and malfunctional after some stage. Aeration occurs also through lenticels in the bark of mangrove species, e.g., species of Rhizophora. Top

Reproductive Strategies of Mangroves Reproductive Strategies: Virtually all mangroves share two common reproductive strategies: dispersal by means of water and vivipary. Members of the Rhizophoraceae family (Rhizophora, Bruguiera and Ceriops species) have an intriguing viviparous method for successfully reproducing themselves. Vivipary means that the embryo develops continuously while attached to the parent tree and during dispersal. They may grow in place, attached to the parent tree, for one to three years, reaching lengths of up to one meter, before breaking off from the parent and falling into the water. These seedlings (propagule) then travel in an intriguing way. In buoyant sea water they lie horizontally and move quickly. On reaching fresher (brackish) water however, they turn vertically, roots down and lead buds up, making it easier for them to lodge in the mud at a suitable, less salty. Once lodged in the mud they quickly produce additional roots and begin to grow. Some other species (Avicennia and Aegiceras) also produce live seedlings but these are still contained within the seed coat when it drops from the plant. The seed of Avicennia floats until this coat drops. A brief account of fauna in Mangrove ecosystem Zooplankton The zooplankton in the mangrove areas mostly includes crustacean larvae. Larvae of several species are found in large quantities. This is obvious because mangroves are the breeding ground for a variety of organisms. Food in the form of suspended solids is plenty, while shelter is sought in the complex root-systems of plants. Insects Insect fauna of mangroves has not been adequately researched in India. Hardly any information is available about the insects in mangrove areas. But some work has been conducted in W. Bengal and Orissa where honey collection is one of the major tribal activity. Collection of fine quality mangrove honey is a major occupation for tribals. The common honey bees found here are Apis dorsata (rock bee) and Apis mellifera (European bee).

Butterflies and moths are also commonly found in the mangrove ecosystem. Several species of butterflies and moths have been reported in mangrove areas. Salmona is a butterfly which is associated with the mangrove associate, Salvadora.

Another moth, Hybloea puera, has recently been observed to be infesting large tracts of Avicennia marina on the Western coast.

Molluscs and Crustaceans Mangroves are a paradise for aquatic animals like molluscs and crustaceans. About 20 species of shellfish and 229 species of Crustaceans belonging to Indian mangroves have been recorded. However, much work is needed on this subject. The reason for high density of these animals lies in the high deposits of silt and detritus in the mangrove environment. In addition to the rich sediments brought by the rivers, the leaves shed by mangrove trees also add in the organic constituents of mangrove soil. As a result, a rich source of food is created which is utilized by detritovorous organisms like crustaceans and molluscs. Many crustaceans in the mangroves make burrows which are used for refuge, the feeding, as a source of water or for establishing a territory necessary for mating. Some may filter water through their burrows, feeding on suspended detritus and plankton while others may breed there. These burrows play an important role in the mangroves, aerating, draining and turning the dense waterlogged soil a direct benefit to the plants which in turn give them shelter. Mangrove Crab (Scylla cerata) : Scylla serrata, the large edible swimming crab, inhabits the muddy bottom of mangrove estuaries, as well as coastal brackish water. Due to its association with mangroves it is known as the Mangrove Crab or the Mud Crab. This is a commercially important crab and it is trapped in special nets throughout the country. Due to its habit of cutting stems of young plants it is a pest for young plantations. Fiddler Crab (Uca sp.) : Fiddler crab is probably one of the first animals one sees in a mangrove area. Fiddler crabs are charcteristised by the males which are armoured with a single huge pincer (claw) which is used as a courtship display tool rather than for protection. The other pincer is small in the males and is used for feeding. Females have two small pincers of equal size. Fiddler crabs are semiterrestrial and prefer to stay on protected sand and mud beaches of bays and estuaries. Their burrows are located in the intertidal zone, and at low tide the crabs come out for feeding and courting. There are 62 known species of fiddler crabs in the world. Fiddler crabs are preyed upon by fish, large crabs, some mammals and birds. In the IndoPacific region a species of snake called "mangrove snake" goes down into a fiddler crab's burrow and hunts the crab.

Telescopium telescopium : Like the mangrove crab, this characteristic mollusc is also strongly associated with mangrove environment and is an indicator species for mangroves. The name is derived from the typical telescope-like structure of the shell. This animal belongs to Class Gastropoda of Phyllum Mollusca.

Fish : Mangroves are the breeding and nursery grounds for several species of fish. There are a total of 105 species of fish which are typical mangrove dwellers in India. Besides, many other species visit the mangrove environment frequently or occasionally. Some common species are scats, milk fish, mudskippers, mullets, cat fish, perches, etc. Mud skippers are one of the fish which live on the mud flats associated with mangroves shores. The mud skipper is a fish well adapted to alternating period of exposure to air and submersion and is frequently seen hopping along the mud at the water's edge They are well-comouflaged and able to change colour to match their background. It respires under water like other fish but out of the water gulp air. When submerged it swims like a fish but on land proceeds by a series of skips. Some of them can even climb trees using their fused pelvic (rear) fins as suckers and their pectoral fins as grasping 'arms'. When a mud skippers is out of water it carries in its expanded gill chamber a reserve from which to extract oxygen. After a few minutes, when this reserve is exhausted, it is replenished from pool or from water in the burrows which they dig. The mud skipper's most noticeable feature is a pair of highly mobile eyes perched on top of the head to increase the field of view and to enable it to see both under and over the water.