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Where the sea and shore meet, we often find beaches, but other forms of interaction occur in the tropics–such as mangroves. Mangroves are beneficial both as a filter between land and sea and as a nursery habitat for a wide range of living things.

Some of the BVI’s remaining mangroves can be found at Frenchman’s Cay in a small stand near the bridge to Tortola, by the bridge to Beef Island as seen above, at Sea Cows Bay, on the southeastern shore of Tortola at Paraquita Bay and Bar Bay inlet (the latter to be designated as a National Parks Trust) and at various salt ponds throughout the BVI.

Mangroves provide shelter in storms to various wading birds such as the flamingos and little blue herons. Sometimes seen by snorkeling, mangroves are usually viewed by kayak, small rowing dingy or even a sailboat dingy. See Those Amazing Mangroves.

Good viewing from shore can be had at the Biras Creek trail to the Bitter End and at the road to Soper’s Hole Wharf, where the "thin film" or layer presents the sculptural roots and branches to great advantage. Branches often reach down to become roots. A good instance of the mangrove being used as an ornamental plant is at the Bitter End.

Mangrove Oyster. Small with a long purple shell, this oyster is found in brackish water in clusters on the prop roots of the red mangrove as well as pilings and rocks. Sought by starfish as well as some birds, the mangrove oyster is also considered a delicacy by humans.

Upsidedown Jellyfish. Jellyfish are usually found in open water near the surface, except the Upsidedown Jellyfish which is found in shallow water near mangroves. The upsidedown position occurs only when resting, not swimming (to Jellyfish).

Land Crabs. Seen where the mangroves have created land, still only a foot or so above sea level, the burrow of the land crab reaches down to the water table, since this crab needs access to water. Up to four inches across their brownish-grey shell, the land crab, which can sometimes be seen scuttling across roads on moonlit nights, is a delicacy in the islands. Look for burrows and a low area and a surrounding area clear of vegetation, since these crabs are herbivores.

Salt Ponds

Salt ponds are found throughout the BVI, including the famous Salt Island ponds where salt is still extracted as well as Tortola’s Belmont, Josiah’s Bay and Long Bay East ponds and the very extensive ponds on Anegada.

Wading Birds

Flamingo. See Restoration of the Flamingos on Anegada and A Natural History Guide to Guana Island (under Flamingo). Here is a picture of flamingos in flight.

Great Blue Heron.

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Mangrove Life

Aragorn creates exquisite copper wall sculptures.

Over 3′ tall with a wingspan of 7′, the Great Blue Heron stands motionless when fishing. This slate-blue wading bird also eats crabs, crayfish, lizards and mice. This elegant wader may be spotted throughout the islands.

Little Blue Heron. A frequent visitor of salt ponds where it nests in the mangroves, this elegant wader (more info) has a very fast jab for catching fish, crabs, lizards and insects. The slate-grey mother can be seen paired with its snow white young before its first molting.

To Sea and Shore