The Mourning Splash
Save The World, Save Our Fish, Save Our MangrovesFriday, February 04, 2011 By Elizabeth Selva
For the second year, ATM is participating in a mangrove resoration project -- and this year there's a new twist: Anyone who wants to give back to our planet adopt a baby mangrove plant. Students and teachers have been buying the small mangroves until they grow large enough to be planted next year at Oleta’s restoration site. All proceeds made from this year's adopt-a-mangrove program will benefit the school's greenhouse. Money will be used to purchase more mangroves and other plants. There are currently 2,000 red mangroves in the greenhouse, waiting to be settled in the restoration site. Once the mangroves have reached a steady height of at least two feet, they will be ready to be planted. By purchasing a mangrove seedling for only $5 and giving the little plant some care, students and teachers become of the process of restoring lost mangrove habitat. Raising mangroves in the greenhouse gives them a higher survival rate instead of having them float around in the shores of our beaches. Mangroves are fairly common in South Florida. They have unique prop roots that extend into the water creating a safe and secure environment for many fish. Think of them as our sea’s protectors. Their roots catch pollution that would contaminate the ocean's coral reefs while also offering protection against strong winds, waves and tides that would otherwise cause havoc during hurricane season. Last year, Florida International University parterned up with Mourning High at Oleta River State Park to help restore the mangroves in the park. By Earth Day 2010, students from our school were working in our greenhouse tending to the plants. The project really began in September 2009 when the cigar-shaped propagules were collected at a beach clean up. Students took care of 1,200 mangroves and planted them a year later. Mr. Martin Roch, sponsor of the ecology club and marine biology teacher, plans to expand the school's mangrove-growing operation to add black mangroves to the red ones already in the greenhouse. No one else is using black mangroves, Mr. Roch said. The red mangroves are coastal trees with a high tolerance for salt. There might be plans for creative ideas to incorporate mangroves into everyday life at school. Possibly a mural where red and black mangroves can hang, ideas are always welcome. “In the years that will come, it will get better, students already enrolled in the program are creating awareness of the importance of preserving mangroves. Kids are taking the torch, passing on the responsibility of taking care of the environment. We need to stress the importance of mangroves in this area,” said Mr. Roch. Students at ATM are enthusiastic about the program. Jonathan Gibson, sophomore at ATM believes that the program is great. "I think the adopt a mangrove program is a great idea because you're adopting a plant that will grow out to be a big tree. Those mangroves are going to be beneficial to the environment and who wouldn't want to help?" Jonathan explains how he would purchase a mangrove to help the cause because "more trees equals more oxygen and its good to have a lot of that." The only thing he would change about the program, is to not limit the program to just mangroves. "We should look for other trees to have, thats the only thing I'd change, but the program is doing fine just the way it is." Sablond Polycarpe another sophomore at ATM agrees with Jonathan, "The program is really good, I believe it is a good way to bring awareness of the environment and a good way for us to see that we need to appreciate it." "Would i buy one?... Of course I would, it wouldnt hurt to get one, it will only benefit me and the community in the long run," explained Sablond. As for Jose Navarro, a junior, he pretty much feels the same. "The program is a good, we need more awareness of the enviroment, and every little thing will help, I would get one, its a way to support the school and the community at the same time." You’ve probably seen the mangroves around the school sitting on many teachers’ desks. Don’t hesitate on this program, adopt a red mangrove today and be a part of the cause.