A Morning in the Mangroves
Anurag Soni, Culture Lab Leadership Fellow
1 June 2019
Our day on the 1st of June began at 6:30 am, rushing to office to catch the bus that would take us on the early morning excursion to the Vikhroli Mangroves. The bus ride was short, we reached as we finished introductions and one box of mango juice.
We got down, happy to find no mosquitoes around but put on some repellent just in case and were then escorted to the mangroves and were immediately transported back to our seventh standard science books.
A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water. There are about 80 different species of mangrove trees. All of these trees grow in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.
The Vikhroli Mangroves is the largest privately-owned mangrove forest and covers up a huge expanse and has about 16 different species of mangroves going in. It is also responsible for preventing soil erosion and reduces flooding. Godrej and Boyce have also released a mobile app to know more about mangroves. It identifies 24 species of mangroves and has detailed descriptions of each.
Many mangrove forests can be recognized by their dense tangle of prop roots that make the trees appear to be standing on stilts above the water. This tangle of roots allow the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides, which is important since the mangroves get flooded at least twice per day. Since the soil is too marshy, the mangroves have adapted and so have grown aerial roots for respiration. The roots also slow the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle down so and build up the muddy bottom.
The forest also nurtures fish, crabs, prawns, lobsters and provide livelihoods for local fisherfolk of Thane creek. It also has nature trails and theme gardens such as the butterfly garden which we went to see next and a medicinal garden. Though contradictorily, we witnessed more butterflies in the Medicinal garden than the butterfly garden.
We ended the tour with a lovely group photo, rounding up our morning filled with fun and learning!