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Our Mangroves are Protected
By Jonie Maschek
Oct 9, 2008 - 10:09:51 AM

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Our mangroves are protected. I heard of a person this week who trimmed their shoreline, because they shut off their view.
Mangroves lining shore. Joni Maschek Photo

Some good neighbor reported them and a fine in the thousands was dropped upon them. It looks like to me, that if the neighbor knew that the call he made would be a bad choice, as this person would get into big trouble, would have told him the laws about mangroves before he cut them down.

Mangroves are a woody plant that prefer shorelines in estuaries, lagoons and subtropical climate. They are remarkable plants as they tolerate saltwater and flourish in areas that most other woody plants cannot exist. They contain 10 to 100 times more salt than uplands and freshwater wetlands plants do.

Florida has three mangrove species, with common names as: Red Mangrove, Black Mangrove and White Mangrove. They hang on the edge of our shorelines with a tangled mass of roots and limbs. One angler said that they are so thick that a rabbit couldn’t run through. They are thick in our area, as they love the warmth from the Gulf of Mexico.

Red mangroves are usually the most seaward of the mangroves in this area. They have shiny green leaves with paler green undersides. They have many tangled, reddish aerial roots and prop roots, which branch into the sediment from the branches and trunks. Most reach a height of 30 feet, but have been known to reach 100 feet.

Mangroves are a haven for animal survival. A shelter is provided by the thick canopy of tangled roots. It is said that as many as 217 species of fish and 200 species of insects live in the mangrove areas.

Mangroves are important nurseries for juveniles and as habitats for a wide variety of adult fish and shellfish in our shores. To name a few of the creatures that use mangroves include shrimp, redfish, oysters, crabs, snook, mullet, sea­trout and blue crabs.

In addition to their value as habitat, mangroves also perform other functions. They stabilize sediments beneath their roots and trunks process that also captures pollutants, preventing them from contaminating nearby waters. They also serve as windscreens to buffer storms.

Around the world mangrove destruction continues at an alarming pace. Mangrove trimming on private and state owned lands is guaranteed by state law, so that they can view the water. Trimming is okay, but to cut them down is a no no.
Many pioneers used mangrove branches to smoke their fish. Others used buttonwood. I don’t know what that is, but I’m sure someone will call me and tell me all about it.

Snook love to hide in the roots of a mangrove, and I’ll bet there are a dozen or so lures, hooks, etc. at the base of most. If you are lucky you will master the cast into the roots of a mangrove and land a snook.

Snook is a fish with a lateral black line and one per day per person is the law. Cannot keep one less than 28” or more than 32”.

Since snook are of a good size, they often are cooked by baking. Native Floridians often cook them outside, gutted, cut in half, stuffed with crab dressing. Dressing: store bought, your choice cornbread or regular, add a can of crabmeat or some use a can of oysters. Take a big piece of foil paper, put stuffed snook in middle and surround it with Ruskin onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Roll up and put on hot coals. Cook slowly until fish flakes and veggies are cooked. A meal that can’t be topped.

Mangrove snapper are happy swimming in ship channels and are waiting for you to move on out and boat a few for your dinner. They must measure 10” and the limit is 5 per person. This a pan fish and most often fried with a thin batter coating.
Permit have landed on the end of a few anglers poles this week. Sheepshead are being caught from bridges and piers. Since your calls tell me to describe the fish, as you are new to the area, the sheepshead is an ugly fish, with black and white stripes and sharp fins. Don’t let the looks fool you as this fish is a white, lean meat fish and a great fish to cook many ways. They are, too, often baked with a stuffing, or broiled and flaked into a salad, or fried a golden brown and served with a lemon sauce or cubed into a stew.

Redfish is a great catch and many are coming back into our waterways. It is a great fish to bake, with veggies of your choice. Some serve a tomato sauce over this fish. If you fish Simmons Park, you might catch one. This fish has a round black spot near its tail fin.

Some have caught enough crabs this past week to put into their ­salads. They have traps at their piers. Beware of crab thieves. There are people who make a night out of stealing crabs out of other’s traps.

Football season is here, and we now have a winning baseball season, but don’t get so involved in these that you don’t have time to fish. Fish before or after the games.

 -- Aleta Jonie Maschek is a ­member of Florida Outdoor Press­.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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