The mangrove

Take a stroll between land and sea !

The mangrove, with its distinctive trees, stretches along the coast and is the transition between the land and the sea. A multitude of animal species live among the roots of the mangrove trees. It is the food larder and nursery for about 260 species of fish. You may laugh at two odd looking creatures: the fiddler crab and the mudskipper, but they are in fact perfectly adapted to their environment.
On the beach front
Here, the fiddler crab is king, so called on account of the one greatly oversized claw carried by the males. This giant claw is also a communication tool: the fiddler crab has a complex social organisation and uses this claw not only to fight for his territory, but also to generate sounds for communicating with other crabs and to impress the females... The mangrove is also home to the mudskipper, a very odd fish that spends most of its time on land.
The mangrove display
The mangrove display is fitted with a system for simulating tides, as the mangroves trees are highly dependant on the tidal cycle for their existence: their roots must be exposed to air part of the time, otherwise the trees would "choke" for lack of oxygen. Among the stilt roots of the mangrove trees, you may see some moonfish swimming gracefully.



The mangrove crab
In New Caledonia, the mangrove crab is found mainly along the northern and western coasts. It feeds on molluscs and crustaceans, which it can crack with its with powerful claws. The hindmost pair of legs is flattened and used as swimming fins. Adult specimens spend most of their life among the roots of the mangrove trees or on the flats between mangrove and lagoon. They usually shelter in holes they dig in the mud.









The Heart of Voh


In New Caledonia, mangroves cover 200 km2 not counting mud flats. The natural formation called "the Heart of Voh" has made it famous world-wide. 
 
 

A natural waste-treatment plant


Mangroves play an important ecological function. They are very effective in cleaning up the water, by filtering out the sediments. They are also the starting point of many food-chains.

Water in cheek-pouches


Mudskippers spend much of their time out of the water at low tide. Their fins have evolved into a shape that allows then to move on land by skipping. To keep their gills moist, they store water in their cheek-pouches. Like frogs, they are also able to breathe through the skin. Their eyes have a double structure, enabling them to see in air as well as in water.