Mangroves: More To It Than Meets The Eye…

You may have seen mangroves somewhere along the coastal area of Singapore but what are the significances of those mangroves? Just after doing some research before writing this blog that I realized mangroves have profound significances to coastal ecosystems in Singapore. For instance, along the coast of Chek Jawa, you can observe mangroves , e.g. Bakau minyak (Rhizopora apiculata) and api-api bulu (Avicennia rumphiana) growing at the intertidal zone.

Bakau Minyak

Bakau Minyak (photos from WildSingapore, Flickr)

Api-api bulu

Api-api bulu, another common mangrove species found at Chek Jawa (photos by WildSingapore, Flickr)

Mangroves support over 150 species of fish in Singapore (Lim K.P. Kelvin et al., 1999). Estuarine catfish (Mystus gulio) is a common example.

Estuarine catfish

Estuarine catfish (Retrieved from "A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore" by Peter Kelvin K.P.Lim et al., 1999)

One of the most important roles of mangroves is nursery habitats for juvenile fish. You may ask why mangroves are so attractive to fish, especially juvenile fish. The reasons for this question include 2 major factors,i.e. food abundance and protection from predators. The epiphytic  algae on mangroves pneumatophores accumulate an assemblage of invertebrate species, thus providing ample food supply to fish (Low and Chou, 1994). The structure of mangrove habitats also provides protection and shelter from predators to juvenile fish.

Another important role of mangroves is that mangroves bind soft sediments, facilitating coral reef development in areas that might otherwise have too much silt for coral growth. In turn, coral reefs buffer wave impacts, helping to minimize erosion of soft sediments that mangroves need to grow (Mumby et al., 2004). 


Low, J.K.Y, Chou, L.M.1994. Fish diversity of Singapore mangroves and the effect of habitat management. Research Paper, Third ASEAN-Australia symposium on living coastal resources Vol.2 (pp.465-470). Bangkok: Chulalungkorn University.

Lim, K.P. Kelvin et al. 1999. A Guide to Mangroves of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre.

Second sources:

Mumby, P.J. et al. 2004. Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Carribean. Nature 427: 533-536.