Ras Al Khaimah boasts 65 kilometres of coastline, much of which are mangroves teeming with fish and flamingoes. Paddling through the inner city mangroves is a unique experience, with nature and man-made structures uniting to offer the best of both worlds. Once seen as swampyareas, mangroves are now valued for providing the Emirate’s shorelines with a diverse and vibrant ecosystem.
Mangroves are woody plants that inhabit the intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical coasts all around the world. They are highly recognisable from their visible root systems, giving them the strange impression of being planted upside-down. Mangroves are the first defence for coastal communities by providing natural barriers that prevent erosion and protect shorelines from storm surges and flooding. The densely populated trees provide a nursery environment for thousands of fish, molluscs and crustaceans seeking refuge from their larger predators and allowing them to thrive before moving to other areas as they mature.
The Ras Al Khaimah mangroves are home to pastel pink flamingoes who spend their days with their heads upturned, feasting on shrimp, plankton, algae and crustaceans. The mangroves are also home to the western reef heron, Kalba collared kingfisher and the greater spotted eagle. Ras Al Khaimah is a pit stop for many migratory birds that travel from the cold Baltic seas to North Africa each year.
The diversity of life within the Ras Al Khaimah mangroves is astonishing. The mangroves are peaceful, and there is no better way to explore the salt-loving mangrove vegetation than aboard a kayak or paddleboard. Tens of thousands of cormorant birds have been spotted on Ras Al Khaimah’s beaches and mangroves, resting and feeding before heading off again. It’s a sight to behold.
Mangroves are rich and diverse, armouring communities against the impact of climate change. The mangroves link the land to the sea, receiving nutrients and organic matter from terrestrial ecosystems, estuaries and marine systems. Across the world, there are 70 known mangrove species; in Ras Al Khaimah, you can find six different families of crabs and 49 mollusc species, including clams and marine snails. On scarce occasions, rays and even blacktip reef sharks have been known to enter the mangroves.
Most of the mangrove forest is populated around Ras Al Khaimah corniche. There is an abundance of life just waiting to be explored by kayak or paddleboard. Various guided tours depart from the corniche so you can journey through the rare and glorious beauty of these ancient ecosystems. Lose yourself in nature as you traverse nature’s waterways and appreciate the silence. Kayaking is hugely fun, even if you have never tried it before. The knowledgeable guides share the importance of the existence of mangroves within the coastal system. You’ll encounter a variety of marine life while you paddle through the mangroves.