Few countries in the world have as many mangrove forests as does México and the Yucatán Peninsula is home to some 55% of all México’s mangroves.
A mangrove is a community of plants, trees, and animals that occurs in tropical areas that are inundated with saltwater. There are few ecosystems in the world that are so important to our survival, yet they are fragile and always at risk from human interference and “development.”
Why are mangroves important?
Mangroves nourish and provide shelter for flora and fauna. They are natural control systems, providing barriers from flooding, hurricanes, they help control soil erosion, and are considered to be biofilters for water.
Mangroves may be hardy and tough, but they actually occupy a vulnerable part of a coastal ecosystem: the land between the low tide and high tide marks. They grow here and when the big storms arrive it is our mangroves that provide us with protection. Without the peninsula’s mangroves, storm surges would reach far deeper inland, wreaking more damage than they unfortunately already do.
Mangrove roots provide nursery areas for wildlife. By protecting marine life at its most vulnerable they also attract huge numbers of migratory birds.
What are we seeing?
In Yucatán there are four species of mangrove:
Red mangroves are the easiest to identify as their stilt-like roots arch in the air before entering the water. These both provide stability and collect oxygen for the plant. You’ll notice how the roots of the separate trees intertwine to form a forest of roots. Red mangroves are one of the most important woody plants on the Yucatán coast.
Unlike the red mangrove, black mangrove roots are below ground. From these roots grow pneumatophores, which collect oxygen for the submerged roots. Black mangroves tend to grow higher above the low tide mark than red or white mangroves, so they are spotted in muddy areas rather than right at the shoreline.
The white mangrove is a flowering mangrove tree that can grow 12-18 meters. Depending on environmental conditions it can either have stilt roots or pneumatophores for oxygen collection.
Buttonwood is generally a dense shrub of a mangrove but in the right conditions, it can also grow up to 20 meters.
Where to visit and explore our mangroves
All around the Yucatán coast it is easy to explore the mangroves. From Celestún and Sisal in the west of Yucatán, through Progreso in the north, to Río Lagartos and San Felipe in the east, there are opportunities to get closer to nature and learn about these magnificent forests.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger
Adventure lover who never lost her sense of fun or wonder
Tourism Services in Telchac Puerto
Tourism Services in Progreso
LIbramiento s/n Progreso
Tel. (999) 158 5155
La Ria Progreso
Tel. (999) 127 6128
FB: La Ria Progreso
Tourism Services in Sisal
Aventurismo en Sisal
Spend the day of the estuary, take tours to the “Petén,” mangrove, and spring; snorkel on the reef and sunken ships. Recreational and artisanal fishing; birding and flamingo tours. Service in English and Spanish. Certified federal guide.
Cel. 9991 97 92 58
FB: Ziz-Ha Ecoturismo
Cocodrilos Gedeon Sisal
Tours to the mangroves by day and night, diving, and sport fishing.
Cel. 9992 62 90 46
FB: Cocodrilos Gedeon Sisal
Casa Balam Hostel / Experiencias Balam-Há (water jaguar)
Excursions (one day) and expeditions (two or more days) to the coast, reefs, and shipwrecks. Artisanal fishing, tours to the mangrove, flamingo and bird watching. Hammock or camping accommodation. Services available in English and Spanish.
Cel. 9991 15 43 94
FB: Casa Balam Hostel
Tours to the mangroves and natural spring, guided bike tours of the city, artisanal fishing, hiking and bird watching at dawn. Accommodation in private rooms or homes by the day or week.
Cel. 9993 63 50 14
FB: Descubre Sisal
Ecotours Tiburones de Sisal
Boat tours along the coast and on “bananas,” biking and Centro Histórico tours, tours to the mangroves and dunes, diving, and artisanal fishing.
José Fco. Chan Canul
Cel. 9994 94 76 23
FB: Ecotours tiburones de sisal
Thatched-roof motorcycle rides, kayak tours to the mangroves by day and night, bird watching, and ecotourism activities.
Cel. 9992 35 10 87
FB: Motoventurs sisal
Tours to the mangroves and the “Petén,” birdwatching, cycling, sport fishing, and horseback tours on the beach.
Cel. 9992 10 69 86
FB: Adventure tour
Gener Dzib Esquivel
FB: Zotz-Balam Tours y Pesca. Sisal, Yuc.
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