In the Mangrove Forest

A bottlenose Dolphin surfaces at Ten Thousand Islands, Everglades National Park, near Florida City, Florida. Dolphins here are smaller than those in the open ocean, and water tends to be shallow, about eight feet deep in most places. Mangrove islands are in the background. Photo by Katey Batavia.


In the Mangrove Forest

Serenely we sail over sparkling seas

under a cloudless, boundless, bright, blue sky.

Aloft, uplifted by auspicious breeze,

above green mangrove islands, ospreys fly.

Calusas in canoes once feasted here;

shell middens at campsites made islands rise.

Homesteaders came, some island land to clear,

but nature soon reclaimed her paradise.

In wakes of boats, the friendly dolphins play,

delightful as they were in olden days!


Shell Middens

Shell middens are mounds of shells left behind from Native American seafood meals. The mounds may also contain bones, pottery shards, and other discarded materials. At Ten Thousand Islands, you can identify islands with shell middens by their slightly higher altitude. Trees grow atop the middens, rising above the surrounding mangroves.


Osprey chicks are growing up in a nest of sticks built atop this sign and safe from most predators. Everglades National Park, Ten Thousand Islands, near Florida City, Florida.

These mangrove shrubs spread by extending aerial roots down through the salt water into the soil. In Ten Thousand Islands, mangroves have formed about fourteen thousand islands, comprising one of the largest mangrove forests in the world. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Cattails and mangroves growing along the Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Homestead, Florida. Photo by Ellen Maher.


CopyrightΒ© 2023 by Cheryl Batavia

44 Comments

    1. Thank you, Laura, for your thoughtful comment. ❀ Ancient Native Americans permanently altered the topography and flora of islands where they camped and piled up shell middens. Amazing!

      There is a shell midden called Indian Mound on the shore of Lemon Bay, Englewood, Florida. Robert and I used to go there to sit and talk and look out over the water. Paleo Indians were living there 12,000 years ago during the ice age when mastodons lived on the Florida peninsula. That midden may contain mastodon bones! It does contain human remains, and may not be disturbed, so we may never know about that. I found a fossilized bone fragment in my yard that appeared to be from a mastodon tusk when I lived in Sarasota.

      There was a 2016 discovery of a 7,000-year-old burial ground with well-preserved artifacts at the bottom of Lemon bay near the midden. The bodies were wrapped in woven cloth and staked to the bottom of shallow ponds with fire-hardened poles. Water levels have risen, and the old burial site is now 20 feet below the water's surface. It is a protected historical site.

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  1. What a lovely poem and description along with awesome pictures! Midden is something new for me. As a student of biology and palaeontology, I love your love for flora and fauna πŸ˜ŠπŸ’β€οΈ

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  2. Lovely poem. So the question is .. do they get Mangrove Yellow Warblers there? Such a cool subspecies of the Yellows with their rust colored heads. We are fortunate to see one from time to time at South Padre Island Birding Center which has a crop of mangroves the attracts one or two a year. Was not aware of what a Shell Midden was.. as is often the case, a little bit smarter after reading your post.

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    1. Thank you for your kind and informative response! ❀ We saw kites, pelicans, terns, ospreys, egrets, anhingas, and herons on our cruises. I would love to see a Mangrove Yellow Warbler!

      I always learn something from your posts too, Brian. πŸ™‚

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  3. Hi Cheryl, This is such a good poem on the Mangrove forests. We too have them near the Sundarban delta.
    I enjoyed reading this poem. The details you have provided tell more about the Mangrove forest.
    Congratulations! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

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