There are mangroves on the western coasts of all of the islands - these are the sheltered lagoon coasts. The densest mangrove swamps are on the lagoon side of Bastimentos, San Cristobal, Popa, Solarte and Carenero, and along the Admiral Bay shore. The dominant mangrove species in the islands is the red mangrove (rizophora mangle).
Mangroves protect the coast against wave erosion and they fix sediments, creating new land. They recycle organic material and offer wild life refuge.
Mangrove forests protect the growing of numerous commercial species like snappers, conchs, shrimps and crabs, and other species of ecological importance like the starfishes, needlefishes, barracudas.
Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park has many mangrove islets, surrounded by sea, where the water is so clear that snorkelers can see what is happening around their root systems, which are like an underwater forest formed by the mangrove roots.
Thousands of tiny fishes swim among the roots, and their predators follow them - needlefishes and barracudas. And above the water, the mangrove trees provide shelter for many birds and animals.
Mangrove forests throughout the world are being threatened by de-forestation for construction poles and charcoal, and by tourism projects and towns expansion.
Bocas del Toro Ecosystems