Water-Related News

Saint Leo team monitoring mangrove health

By Jerome R. Stockfisch

Photo: Luke Johnson, TBO.com

ST. PETERSBURG – They are the stinky trees. Mosquito factories. Barriers to our cherished water views.

But Florida’s mangroves are also valuable wetland habitats, coastal water filters, defenders against storm surge, and they help mute the effects of climate change.

A group from Saint Leo University in Pasco County is compiling a record of Tampa Bay’s mangroves, the tropical trees that thrive in saltwater at the edge of shore. Crews of faculty and students led by biology professor William Ellis have been recording the condition of the Tampa Bay shoreline with video and still cameras, global positioning devices and spoken and written anecdotal observations.

“We don’t really have any record of their condition at this scale, and this will provide that,” Ellis said. The idea is to obtain a baseline documenting the existing condition of the mangroves in order to note changes from year to year.