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Mangrove Forests

Check out these trees growing in sea water that host lots of crabs and prawns

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Southeast Asia is home to the greatest diversity of mangrove species. Mangrove forests are located mainly on the western coast of Malaysia, and their role cannot be overestimated. First of all, they serve as natural filters for salty water and as a protective shield from tsunamis. Mangrove forests provide great resources for local communities: medical herbs, wood, timber, fuel, and, of course, food. Different species of fish, crabs, prawns, and other marine animals can be found among the long roots of mangrove trees.

Mangrove swamps are also a perfect site for birdwatching. Up to 83,500 birds stop here during migration, as they can find good shelter for breeding and many sources of food.

Mangrove trees can grow up to 25 meters. Some trees, like Rhizophora-Bruguiera are more tolerant to sea salt, so they grow closer to the coastal line. Nypa palms, on the other hand, prefer fresher water, so this kind is more dominant near rivers.

Organised sightseeing of mangroves is well represented in Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve and in Penang National Park. Special boardwalks are installed across these parks for visitors to enjoy the walk between trees. At any moment you can stop to observe flying by white-bellied sea eagles or listen to the whole mangrove orchestra of chattering monkeys, whispering leaves, and whistling kingfishers.

Even though mangrove trees like water, rainy season is not the best time to visit them as rivers become more rapid and dangerous, and boardwalks become muddy and very slippery. So perfect timing would be in January-February or between June and August when the dry season comes to the western coast of Malaysia.

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