Before you swim among Miami mangroves, think twice. South Florida mangroves forests are rich ecosystems teeming with life, including sharks. Mangroves are full of young sharks lurking among the dense tree roots while they hunt for easy prey. These habitats make perfect homes for juvenile sharks in need of food and shelter.
Lemon sharks, blacktip sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, and dusky sharks are all found among mangrove habitats, according to Save Our Sharks. The lemon shark, which is highly common to mangroves, mates in the summer and spring months with a 10 to 12 month gestation period. This means they give birth between early spring and early fall, making summertime a likely season for lemon shark pups to be roaming the mangroves.
Luckily, the species of sharks commonly found in mangroves will most likely only attack if provoked or spooked. All the same, you should avoid intruding on these young sharks in their habitat for their safety as well as yours.
Mangrove forests provide a nursery for young sharks that are far less threatened by predators among mangroves than in the open ocean. Mother sharks do not continue to care for their young after they are born, so they will give birth in a safe area like mangroves for their pups to grow.
South Florida Mangroves, which are home to massive amounts of crustaceans, fish, and marine mammals, also provide a bountiful food source for juvenile sharks while they hide out from larger predators. These easy kills make mangroves an ideal habitat for a juvenile shark.
Mangroves are home to many other ominous critters, including moray eels, sawfish, stingrays, and barracudas. These animals are just a few more reasons not to step freely in these habitats.
According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida has approximately 469,000 acres of mangroves. There are 3 mangrove species in the state; red, black, and white mangroves. These mangroves are vital to the health of the state's coastal ecosystems and are currently threatened by climate change and land development.