Mangrove at risk

Institute of Marine Affairs:

 ANIMAL and plant life in the mangrove along the southwestern coast of the country could be severely damaged by the recent oil spills.

This is according to Head of the Bio Diversity and Ecology Department at the Institute of Marine Affairs, Dr Rahanna Juman.

Juman said both plants and animals could die if oil was to seep into the mangrove that lines the coast.

She said: “Mangroves have been the most vulnerable eco-system to oil spills. Those are the primary eco-systems along the south western peninsula.  All these systems are open to tidal flushing. If there is oil in the area it is going to move in with the tides. “

Juman said mangrove trees have specialised roots that allow the roots to remain submerged in water.

“When the oil moves in it tends to smother these breathing roots and depending on the degree of smothering it can kill the trees,” she said.

She said crabs, oysters, barnacles and other organisms were also at risk.

Juman said: “ Animals like caimans, they are cold blooded animals. They depend on the heat to warm up their bodies so if there is oil on the body they can overheat.”

Birds who go to feed in the mangrove will also be affected, she said.

Berms were usually placed to prevent oil from spreading into  mangroves, Juman said.

She said the Institute of Marine Affairs plans to visit the mangrove on Friday to see the extent of damage done to the eco-systems.

—Sue-Ann Wayow

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