In New Caledonia, the red mangrove, Lumnitzera littorea, bursts into clusters of tiny, brilliant red flowers in December.
This tree is in the estuary of the small Rivier des Pepites. You will find a series of sphere images of this lovely little river by scrolling down on this page or clicking on the arrows in the image. This is where the stream flows into the carénage anchorage of the Baie du Prony. Look down and you'll see the water here is clear. This is because the small river, like the three larger rivers that flow into this bay, have no people living anywhere on the watershed, no farming, no sewage, and very few roads. It is one of the few extensive watersheds on the planet that remains free of human populations.
Mangroves play a vital role in maintaining the health of coastal marine ecosystems. They form a biological filtration system protecting nearshore waters from siltation during heavy rains. A vast number of lagoon fish and invertebrates grow up in the protection of the mangrove forest before moving out into the lagoon to populate the coastal waters and coral reefs. Dissolved organics from the decaying mangrove leaves also enrich the nearby lagoon, nourishing the sea grasses and algae that form an important part of the lagoon's food-chain.
Throughout the world, mangroves forests are being cleared for coastal development, bulldozed for aquaculture farms, infested with slum housing, dammed by roads, and buried under municipal dumps. The vast majority of mangroves now grow in murky waters polluted with silt and pesticides from agriculture, cities and roads. In 2007 an international meeting of world mangrove experts unanimously agreed that "we face the prospect of a world deprived of the services offered by mangrove ecosystems, perhaps within the next 100 years." The experts reported, "mangrove losses during the last quarter century range consistently between 35 and 86%. As mangrove areas are becoming smaller or fragmented, their long-term survival is at great risk, and essential ecosystem services may be lost." and "We are greatly concerned that the full implications of mangrove loss for humankind are not fully appreciated. Growing pressures of urban and industrial developments along coastlines, combined with climate change and sea-level rise, urge the need to conserve, protect, and restore tidal wetlands" Mangrove Action Project.
Treasure this image, because the land surrounding this small river has been leased for strip mining. Soon this beauty will be just a memory our children will see on Google Earth and 360Cities.net. You can find more images of the New Caledonia wilderness here on on www.new-caledonia-photos.com.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.