Explore the magic of the mangroves

Cayman’s beaches and near shore reefs are very well known to local sun seekers, but the mangroves that line much of the shoreline still remain a mystery to many. It is this mystery that Cayman Kayaks aim to unlock with the mangrove tours the company offers.

From the life that lurks among the roots of the mangroves to the mysterious and magical bioluminescence in the waters off Rum Point, the tours showcase a unique side of Cayman.

According to TomWatling of Cayman Kayaks, the close interaction with these fragile environments helps people realise that Cayman has much to offer in unique natural resources, but also impresses upon them the fragility of these environments.

Red Mangroves play a vital role when it comes to providing a safe habitat for many juvenile fish and crustaceans in which to shelter. Mangroves are also great to prevent erosion of beaches and protecting our coastlines from destruction during storms and hurricanes.

“Planting these trees around the coastlines will give your water front properties a buffering zone from boat wakes at the same time as creating privacy with a saltwater living hedge encouraging fish and lobsters to hide within the roots,” says Tom.

The plants are unique in their ability to survive in water and areas with high salinity and low oxygen.

“This plant designates one leaf in every bunch to take all the salt for that branch – we call it the ‘salt slave’,” says Tom.

Once the leaf falls into the water, Tom says vitamin B12 is excreted from the leaves and provides energy for the Pyrodinium Bahamense, the unique organism that creates bioluminescence in water.

“The same organism that is seen with Cayman Kayaks at Rum Point on the night kayak tour,” says Tom.

In the bioluminescence bay near Rum Point, the combination of mangroves, clean water and nutrients is just right to allow the organisms that cause the bioluminescence to flourish. However, Tom says the fine balance is being disturbed by unregulated use of boats in the area.

“The bioluminescent bay the organisms are being killed by boats going in with gas engines. I encourage those that go into the bioluminescent bay at Rum Point to use electric, sail or paddle only to ensure the long lasting bioluminescent bay here in Cayman,” says Tom.

According to Tom, in Puerto Rico, also one of twelve unique places in the world that has the bioluminescent bays, the bays are protected and only electric, paddle or sail boats are allowed through the waterways.

“I would like to see this here in Cayman someday soon before it disappears. The bioluminescent bay in the Bahamas is now extinct due to motor boats going into it and developing around it,” he says.

Tom hopes that through the tours conducted by Cayman Kayaks he can help raise some awareness about the need to enact legislation to protect these environments from further damage before yet another unique Cayman attraction is lost to rapid development.

For more information on the mangrove or bioluminescence tours, call -746-3249, email tom@caymankayaks.com or visit caymankayaks.com.

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