Mangrove Cay

Marine Resources Council Lead Scientist Caity Savoia's daughter, Camryn, tends to mangroves at the MRC Lagoon House Learning Center in Palm Bay.

BREVARD COUNTY — Mangroves are an important aspect of our environment, especially to our Indian River Lagoon, for its ability to act as a super ecosystem in filtering sediments from the ocean.

This weekend, the Marine Resources Center is hosting a celebration for International Mangrove Day, which is free to the public.

The mangrove celebration is scheduled to take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 at the MRC Ted Moorhead Lagoon House Learning Center, 3275 Dixie Highway N.E., Palm Bay.

Workshops include building a 55-gallon rain barrel at 9:30 a.m., for $55 per person, which the city of Melbourne is currently offering a $50 rebate to its residents who attend; and a mangrove potting and planting workshop at 11 a.m., which is free to attend.

At 10:30 a.m., Marine Resources Council Lead Scientist Caity Savoia will chat with participants about the importance of mangroves and the organization’s mangrove farming efforts.

Then at 12:30 p.m., Florida Institute of Technology’s Professor of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences Dr. Robert Weaver will discuss the school’s living restoration projects.

The event will also feature live music and will announce the winner of its mangrove propagule contest.

“Historically we have lost over 80% of our mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon due to shoreline development,” said MRC Marketing and Enterprise Director Steve Sharkey.

He continued, “With the aerospace boom, a raging economy and baby boomers retiring, our stretch of Florida is being invaded at a record pace and development is once again out of control. Mangroves are a vital component for a healthy lagoon.”

Mr. Sharkey further explained the importance of mangroves by adding that they are a major fish nursery, “which is more important now since we have lost almost all of our sea grasses,” he said.

Mangrove trees are also less susceptible to changes in salinity, temperature and declining water quality than other filter feeders like sea grass, oysters and clams, Mr. Sharkey said.

“Mangroves keep our shorelines from eroding during storm surges by reducing wave impact with their fortified prop roots,” he added.

This year, the MRC has expanded its mangrove celebration to include educational opportunities in addition to live entertainment and food vendors.

The Marine Resources Council aims to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon, coastal waters, inshore reefs and the watershed through educational and public involvement.

For more information, visit www.savetheirl.org.

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