The Kimberley coast contains more than a quarter of the world’s mangrove species, and some of the largest stands of mangroves in Australia, with a total area of 140,000 hectares. The Kimberley’s mangroves are considered to be some of the most pristine mangrove forests in the world, forming closed forests in discontinous chains along thousands of kilometers. These mangal forests may contain up to 18 different mangrove species, supporting rich and diverse fauna.
All mangroves share certain characteristics: pneumataphores (air breathing roots), the ability to exrete salt by dropping leaves, buttress root systems, and water dispersed live seedlings.
Mangroves develop best in areas with shallow gradients, and show their greatest development in tropical areas with large intertidal areas of fine sediment, high rainfall and substantial freshwater runoff. The distribution of species within a single forest depends on various factors including salinity. Sonneratia alba or Avicennia marina will be found at the lowest fringe of the intertidal zone, through to mixed forests further away from the mean sea level.
Several species of birds, animals and invertebrates have evolved to rely specifically on mangrove systems. Some species of mesic birds (birds which rely on a habitat with a mdoerate or well balanced supply of moisture) once relied on rainforests but moved to mangrove systems as conditions became more arid.
Mangrove dwellers include The Striated Heron (found on the seaward side of the mangroves hunting mudskippers and small fish), The Mangrove Kingfisher, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Red Headed Honeyeaters, Mangrove Robins, Brahminy Kites, Sea Eagles, Ospreys and Chestnut Rails.