Farid is the son of a fisherman living in Gazi, Kenya along the Indian Ocean. Gazi is a small fishing village along a beautiful bay with splendid mangrove forestss.
One day a group of foreigners arrived: scientists who came to do research on the mangroves. Farid is a curious boy, so he stayed near the foreigners with some friends to see what happened. Perhaps they could earn a little too!
During low tide the scientists walked through the mangrove and found strange white sandy moving spots between the black mangrove silt… They did not understand what this could be. They asked the boys if they knew what was happening here. The boys knew the spots. They told that they were ‘ghost animals’.The spots existed as long as people could remember. People had been digging to find the animals living there, but never found anything. So it must be ghosts!
Because the scientists did not believe in ghosts, they started testing the water just above the white spots. What did they find? There was fresh water bubbling up from the bottom into the seawater. There were underground watercourses ending here. What an exciting discovery! This also explaned why people around here always find fresh water when they dig a well.
For the people living there the mangroves are important in many ways:
- they protect against gales
- they provide firewood for the cooking fire
- they are ‘nurseries’ for lots of sea animals like fishes, crustaceans, squids, etc
- After heavy rains they filter the water running down from the coastlands and precipate the silt which makes a very fertile soil
- During tsunamis they break the waves and protect the coast against erosion
One of the young scientists started a research to find out where the fresh water came from. He studied maps and charts of the country and of the precipitation in the area and calculated how much rainwater disappeared and reaches the sea underground. He found that a lot of rainwater which forms beautiful waterfalls 500 km from the coast disappears underground there – supporting the splendid mangroves.
Mangroves always grow in brackish water, so there has to be fresh water nearby. Normally they grow near river mouths or estuaries in tropical regions. The tides mix the salty and fresh water everyday
The scientists had been wondering already how it is possible that mangrove could grow here without a river nearby!
The East African coasts along the Indian ocean are a paradise: Coral reefs break the waves. Behind them you find wonderful beaches and lagoons. More and more hotels are being built.
Lots of tourists come to be lazy on the white beaches, under the romantic palm trees. Because it is very hot they are taking showers many times a day. The fresh water reserves are being exhausted quickly. Salty water is not so nice to drink or have in your shower. So experts were asked to keep the flow of tourists coming by keeping the flow of fresh water running…
Now a project is being developed to catch big amounts of water, 500 km from the coast before it disappears underground. It will be brought to the coast in pipes or canals and supply fresh water for the tourists to drink and bath.
Farid and other people in the village are worried:
- What about the mangroves?
- What about the future of the fishermen?
- What about the future of the fishes and other animals?
- What about the mangroves themselves?
1.What will happen with the mangroves in the bay of Gazi when fresh water no longer comes up in the white spots?
2.The fishermen perhaps can find jobs in the hotels, but does this solve all the problems?
3. What can Farid and other young people in the village do to help saving the village?
4.How can tourists help to save the mangroves and other natural places in the region?
A small crab living in the mangroves
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On these websites you can find more useful info about this theme:
www.mangrovecrabs.com Here you can find information about plants and animals in the mangroves
About restoring mangrove in West Africa, and why it is important, read: Planting mangrove forest to protect livelyhood
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A new walking bridge through the mangroves near Gazi. People can watch the waterlife from nearby now