Op/Prop, aka “Operation Propagule.” A propagule is living fruit (seedling) from the red mangrove tree. Our goal is to help encourage the growth of the damaged mangrove islands from Hurricane Irma. It is modeled after similar coral reef restoration projects.
Many of the mangrove islands in the backcountry of the Florida Keys were decimated by hurricane Irma
Op/Prop is working to re-seed the islands damaged by the hurricane
Before hurricane Irma – off of Scout Key
Before hurricane Irma – Crawl Key
After hurricane Irma
After hurricane Irma
The red mangrove tree is unique in the three mangrove species here in the Keys, in that it drops a living fruit. Its fruit is actually not a fruit, but a propagule, an embryonic root. It starts out as a bud and grows somewhat like a curved cigar. Propagules are living mangroves before falling off the parent tree, but still dormant in terms of taking root.
If we leave it to nature alone, it is possible our damaged islands will never recover. If we make a concerted effort, and plant propagules at assigned islands, we will perhaps manifest life – and growth, even if it takes 20+ years. The effort is larger than all of us, but we must try.
As a tour guide, I am constantly questioned about the sad state of our mangrove islands. They are mostly dead. Hurricane Irma and the winds that she produced delivered perhaps a final blow to these islands, but there is hope. The northern tip of the islands survived. The rest of the islands need assistance. That’s where we come in. Money is needed to purchase aquariums and such, to cultivate propagules – to plant.
The scientific name for the red mangrove is Rhizophora mangle, rhizo meaning root, and phora meaning, to bear or carry – in reference to the numerous prop roots growing from the trunk and branches of the mangrove. Mangle (via Potuguese) comes from the word, mangue,
Once the propagule drops off the parent tree, it floats (for up to one year), at first horizontally, and over time, once waterlogged – vertically. During this period the roots become exposed. The propagule is now ready to secure itself in mud, sand – crevice, to plant itself and grow.
Similar to a coral lab, where men and women cultivate and then transplant coral back to the reef,we can nurture and cultivate propagule‘s until they are ready to grow. The idea is to plant as many propagules as we can at affected mangrove islands – and see them grow.
We miss our beautiful mangrove islands, and we want them back sooner than later. Our goal is to replenish the beautiful backcountry of the Lower Keys. You can help support this effort in more ways than one at, adoptaprop.org.