The grey mangrove Avicenna marina is the main mangrove species growingon the coast of the Red Sea. It has the tendency to ‘fringe’, encircle, tidalwaterways. It grows on higher ground and in a wider range of environments thanany other mangrove.
The Avicenna marina mangrove in the Marsa Alam area is approximately3mtrs to 8 meters average in height. It has many respiratory roots that growabove the ground and appear around the trees in a characteristic fashion.
The leaves of the Avicenna marina are simple, oval andare light to dark green. They are covered by salt glands. It helps the plant toget rid of excess salt. They are on the menu of camels. Overgrazing by camelsis a serious problem on the mangrove vegetation in some sites on the Red Seacoast of Egypt. The flowers of the Avicenna marina are small and yellowish.They have a distinctive flagrance that attracts insects, particularly bees.This has inspired a scientific project to experiment with the production ofnatural honey from mangrove.
The mangrove ecosystem is ‘multifunctional’. It serves as a coastalstabilizer and disperses wind energy, generated by storms. It facilitates as a‘wall’ to prevent invasion of inland area by salt water. It produces nutrientsand forest resources. The ecosystem is also a ‘sanctuary’ for fish, shrimp,crabs, etc. The mangrove forests, bordering on the Red Sea as an ecosystem,contain many species of terrestrial and aquatic plants. It also features acharacteristic fauna.
The Red Sea coast runs along an important migration route for hundredsof thousands of water birds, seen migrating in flocks high up in the sky.
The majority of these birds pass through without stopping. However, manyrest at Hamata, turning its mangroves in an important staging and winteringground for a good number of migrant waterbirds.
At least 13 species of resident birds are associatedwith the Hamata mangroves. We mention the Ardeola striata, the Egretta gularis,the Platalealeucorodia and the Pandion haliaetus.Cormorants, herons, falcons, waders, gulls, terns, kingfishers and manymigratory passerines are frequently seen at the Hamata mangroves.