Where the Land and the Sea Intertwine
Connecting the Coastal Ecosystems of Belize - Mangrove Forests of Belize


BROADCAST DATE: TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003

Join Smithsonian scientists and explore coastal ecosystems in Central America, along the coast of Belize. Here thousands of small islands, called cays (pronounced keys) lie in the lagoon between the mainland and barrier reef. Mangrove forests dominate this coastal zone, along with sea grass beds and coral reefs. Discover how these three ecosystems are inextricably linked, and how the distribution of mangroves parallels the distrubution of coral reefs worldwide.

Mangroves are diverse communities of trees that grow in the intertidal zone of tropical coasts. These plants have specialized adaptations that allow them to live where other plants can't. During this electronic field trip, investigate these characteristics that define mangroves and the adaptations that allow them to live where land and sea intertwine.

Mangrove swamps are often described as the "rainforests or nurseries of the sea." They host diverse communities of pants and animals, including several species of sea turtles. Female sea turtles lay their eggs on the very same beach from which they emerged as hatchlings, migration thousands of miles to return to their natal beach. The delicate eggs incubate in the nests on the land's edge where the land and sea intertwine. Explore the life cycle of the sea turtles, including their migratory stop along the coast of Belize.

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