Eco Tour Grand Cayman
An Educational Tour of Grand Cayman’s Most Valued Ecosystem
Slow cruising through the red mangrove forest as the sun begins to set is the perfect way to end any day. These mangroves play a vital role in our ecosystem and are essential for the islands well-being. During your eco tour of the mangroves, our educated captains will teach you and the little ones all about our ecosystem as we journey through these enchanting forests.
What are Mangroves?
Mangroves are groups of trees and shrubs that live in saltwater and can only be found growing along tropical coastlines. They have an intricate root system, called prop roots that look a lot like tentacles giving the trees a very exquisite look. These striking roots are often submerged in the water, while the rest of the tree lives above the water line. This structure makes for a very unique habitat for all different kinds of island wildlife.
Why Mangroves matter?
“If there are no mangrove forests, then the sea will have no meaning. It is like having a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea.”
Mangroves provide the foundation for the food chain that feeds all marine life found in the Cayman Islands. They act as an important nursery area for small fish and invertebrates. The roots provide a shelter like sanctuary to protect these fish from hungry predators while also providing a rich source of food – creating an ideal environment for these juveniles to grow and thrive. The waters of Cayman are teeming with vast aquatic wildlife because of the essential functions these mangroves provide.
As you travel around the Cayman Islands you will find yourself surrounded by crystal- clear waters – this is thanks to the unique and complex root system of the mangroves which filter out sediment and other pollutants. This amazing root system also helps prevent shoreline erosion, protects against coastal storms by reducing the impacts of waves and distributes important nutrients for surrounding ecosystems.
Mangrove wood is resistant to rot making it great for creating furniture, building boats, houses and fishing gear for the surrounding coastal communities. Medicinal plants can also be found within the mangrove ecosystems which communities use for their healing properties.
All plants need fresh water to live but not the red mangroves, they make it themselves! Adaptation allows them to desalinate seawater through reverse osmosis—taking in water and leaving the salt behind.
Another distinct feature of the red mangroves is that they actually grow in the water. When it comes to reproduction, mangrove trees do it like no other. The red mangroves have very large seeds which is actually a small plant with roots that are already growing. When it falls from the parent tree it can grow on the muddy sediments below the tree or float in open water for many months until the roots find a suitable spot to grow.
These grow where there is shallow water during high tides. Since they thrive in shallow waters, their roots are modified to act as snorkels to help the plants breathe since the soil is normally too thick. Unlike their red counterparts, the black mangrove does not have the salt excursion technology but passes out the salt through salt glands on the leaves. You can actually see the salt crystals forming on the upper parts of the leaves, or if you don’t have a keen eye, you can always give it a taste!
This is the distant cousin of the mangrove family since it normally grows on dry land. White mangrove trees have straight trunks covered Sulphur yellow lichen which makes it appear pale at a distance.
Learn about Biodiversity in the Mangroves on our Eco Tour
After learning how this magnificent mangrove forest provides an extensive food web and shelter from predators, it comes as no surprise to discover wildlife of all kinds thriving within this environment. This complex ecosystem provides a home for iguanas, parrots, juvenile sea turtles, crabs, mussels, snails, shrimp and a variety of fish, bird and insect species. Here you will also find some of the most unique species of aquatic wildlife that include: octopi, sea horses, starfish, floating sea anemones, orange sponges and even upside down jellyfish! The mangrove forest is a dream come true for all nature and animal lovers!
My husband and I, along with another couple used Crystal Charters highly recommended by my brother!! This was the best private charter and the captain we had was Canyon; he and his partner were... amazing!!read more
From our initial phone call inquiring about services to coordinate with our cruise ship arrival to our actual boating day, Crystal Charters provided all around top notch service. Alex and Ricky made... our 4 hour outing one to remember. Our family of 3, including our young daughter, were made to feel in good hands especially in the middle of a sudden rain storm on our way to Sting Ray Point. We realized once at Sting Ray Point that we had a special crew when they would find sting rays and bring them to us to enjoy and hold. Other charter groups were left on their own and it was clear while a fun experience for those groups, our experience was a bit more special.Thank you Crystal Charters! We are counting the days until our return to Grand Cayman and another Crystal Charters outing.read more
From booking the boat charter to the end of the boating day, very professional crew. We had a great day with the crew, Hunter and Serena. They made us fell right at home and planned out our day of... adventures on the boat to perfection.Even though the day was a little windy, Hunter re-worked our boating events so that we could enjoy the day with limited wind issues.The best part of the day with swimming with the String rays, Hunter was very knowledgeable about the rays and helped us feel comfortable handling them.After 6 hours on the boat, we ended the day with a great meal, also a suggestion from Hunter.Will we being doing this again with Crystal Chapter, a definite Yes. Be sure to request Hunter and Serena, too.read more
From booking the boat charter to the end of the boating day, very professional crew.We had a great day with the crew, Hunter and Serena.They made us fell right at home and planned out our day of... adventures on the boat to perfection.Even though the day was a little windy, Hunter re-worked our boating events so that we couldenjoy the day with limited wind issues.The best part of the day with swimming with the String rays, Hunter was very knowledgeable about the rays and helped us feel comfortable handling them.After 6 hours on the boat, we ended the day with a great meal, also a suggestion from Hunter.Will we being doing this again with Crystal Chapter, a definite Yes. Be sure to request Hunter and Serena, too.read more
This was my second experience and they have persistently amazed me. The first was with all adults but this was with my 8 month old son. As a family experience or adults only, the charter was... incredible. From their quick responses to my email questions about accommodations for my little one to the hand tailored experience we were all so impressed. Our latest crew (Alex and Serena) were professional, fun, and knowledgeable. We went to sting ray city, star fish point and had an amazing time snorkeling. We left with wonderful memories and professional photos to remember the experience. Will definitely be booking again. Hats off to this group!read more
Cass and Vernon were AMAZING !! This is our 3rd year with Crysta Charters and each year is better and different than the others. They are kind, courteous, outstanding customer service, cater time... your every need! Each year the guides know the stingrays by name they keep away from the crowds and we have a BLAST!!Can't wait for next year!!! ❤️read more