Artificial mangroves could bring back vanishing habitats in Florida
A couple researchers created fake mangroves in Manasota Key to bring back marine life that was lost from development. Along Florida’s coasts are seawalls-- built to prevent the shoreline from eroding. But that defense sometimes means removing natural habitats. Experts are now trying to turn these solid barriers into thriving ecosystems.
In Englewood, the blue-green waters of Lemon Bay lightly lap against the cement wall that shields local buildings and people from potential floods. What used to be here? Red mangroves— home to fish, crabs, and also oysters, which filter the water.
"They're so attractive as an architectural kind of exhibit-- the tree itself, the way it branches, the way the roots and branches overlap and you get a kind of continuous structural network," says architect Keith Van de Riet.
He partnered with biologist Jessene Aquino-Thomas to craft artificial mangrove panels that can be tacked right on to the seawall. They look like real mangrove roots, but they’re white-- made of concrete and ground up oyster shells.