Shark River/Ponce de Leon Bay Mangrove Forest - Everglades National Park
Coastal forests are iconic to Monroe County, Florida, and this particular mangrove forest is one of the most impressive mangrove forests that can be witnessed in South Florida. Mangrove forests occupy the entire southern land boundary of Everglades National Park from Long Sound in the southeast to Chokoloskee Bay in the northwest. These forests, dominated by closed canopy stands of red (Rhizophora mangle), black (Avicennia germinans) and white (Laguncularia racemosa) mangroves vary greatly in composition and physical structure. At the mouth of Ponce de Leon Bay, towering red mangrove dominated forests form islands within a complex network of tidal rivers including the Shark and Little Shark Rivers. Stilted roots support trees 75' tall and the open understory allows a view deep into the forest. Evidence of direct human influence on this forest is not obvious. Known uses are limited to operation of a tannery in the early 1900's in which the bark of trees was stripped to produce tannic acid. Hurricanes frequently affect the area. This mangrove forest is habitat for an abundance of wildlife living in the tall forest canopy all the way down to below the surface of the tidal waters that surround the trees' roots.