IMAGES: Island Hopping

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Science  23 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5743, pp. 1971
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5743.1971a

Mangrove forests reinforce tropical coastlines, filter runoff, and house throngs of terrestrial and aquatic organisms such as the multicolored crab (Goniopsis cruentata). Discover more about the intricate ecology of these forests at this snappy virtual tour from the Smithsonian Institution. The excursion circles Mangal Cay in Belize, an island that features a peat bog, mats of cyanobacteria, and tree-climbing shellfish. Twenty-four stops delve into topics such as mangroves' aerial roots, called pneumatophores. These structures pipe oxygen into the soil, promoting the oxidation of toxic compounds. Visitors can also dive into the waters surrounding Mangal Cay, home to everything from delicate anemones to crocodiles, and learn about threats to mangrove forests such as coastal development and shrimp farming.

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