Wild beauty of America’s Everglades: Subtropical wilderness stuffed with wildlife

June 20th, 2014 Permalink

1.5 million acres in southern Florida, dubbed Everglades National Park in 1947, were inscribed by UNESCO in 1979, and then inscribed to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2010. The national park protects only the southern 20% of the original Everglades, yet it is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. Everglades National Park is also an international treasure as one of only three locations on the globe to appear on the three big lists: World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance. The diversity here of wildlife, nine Everglades ecosystems and changing habitats might blow your mind. The national park protects 800 species of land and water vertebrates, over 400 bird species, more than 275 species of fish and over 20 species of snakes. Here is a look at the wild beauty of America’s Everglades. [34 Photos]

American alligators in Everglades National Park as seen from Anhinga Trail

American alligators in Everglades National Park as seen from Anhinga Trail. Other popular areas for wildlife viewing — like alligators, wading birds, and other animals — include Shark Valley, the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm, and Eco Pond in the Flamingo area. Photo #1 by Miguel Vieira

Everglades National Park pinelands sunrise

Everglades National Park “pinelands sunrise.” NPS stated, “Unlike early national parks established to protect majestic scenery, Everglades National Park was established to preserve a portion of the vast Everglades ecosystem as wildlife habitat. The park is home to a vast array of animals that have adapted to a subtropical environment in which temperate climatic conditions, characteristic of latitudes to the north, merge with tropical Caribbean conditions. The winter dry season, which lasts from December to April, is the best time for wildlife viewing in the park.” Photo #2 by NPS / Sarah Zenner

Everglades NP is the largest subtropical wilderness in the USA

Southern Everglades National Park, Florida captured by an Expedition 15 crewmember on the International Space Station. Everglades National Park in southern Florida is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Photo #3 by NASA

Aerial of Everglades National Park waterways

Aerial of Everglades National Park waterways; the park spans across 1.5 million acres. Many folks believe think the Everglades is proverbial swamp. but it’s not. “It is technically a river, flowing southwest at the slow rate of about a quarter mile per day.” NPS advised that “visitors intending to explore the backcountry wilderness waterways of the park need to have excellent navigational skills.” Photo #4 by NPS

Everglades National Park, largest subtropical wilderness in the United States

Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, “protects only the southern one-fifth of the historic Everglades ecosystem.” NPS explained, “In its entirety, this massive watershed boasts a multitude of habitats that provide a subtropical refuge to a unique assemblage of wildlife.” Photo #5 by NPS

Everglades water way on a rainy afternoon

Everglades water way on a rainy afternoon. Could imagine taking airboat (fanboat) ride, canoeing or kayaking through these seemingly endless water pathways? Yet NPS said, “Kayaking and canoeing are superb ways to visit the habitats of Everglades National Park. Paddle through shady mangrove tunnels, bright sawgrass prairies, open ponds and lakes, or along the stunning coastlines for an experience you’ll never forget!” Photo #6 by Chauncey Davis from Cape Coral, FL, USA

Alligator among cypress at Everglades National Park

Alligator among cypress. Wikipedia states, “The Park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America, contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere, is home to 36 threatened or protected species including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, and supports 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.” Photo #7 by G. Gardner / NPS

Everglades Rainbow, Everglades National Park

Everglades Rainbow. The habitats of the Everglades are diverse and constantly changing. The nine Everglades ecosystems include “Hardwood Hammock, Pineland, Mangrove, Coastal Lowlands, Freshwater Slough, Freshwater Marl Prairie, Cypress, Marine and Estuarine.” Photo #8 by Matthew Paulson

Elusive Florida panther

Elusive Florida panther. It is estimated that “less than 100 Florida panthers still live in the wild, usually in drier parts of the Everglades, such as hammocks and pinelands.” 36 different federally protected animals live in the park, some of which are endangered or face grave threats to their survival. “The Florida panther is one of the most endangered mammals on earth. About 50 live in the wild, primarily in the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp. The biggest threats to the panther include habitat destruction from human development, vehicle collisions, inbreeding due to their limited gene pool, parasites, diseases, and mercury poisoning.” Photo #9 by NPS

Cypress sunset at Everglades National Park

Cypress sunset. Many Everglades National Park visitors go “slogging – wading through the shallow waters in search of wildlife and the secrets of water. “Can you imagine seeing an alligator’s eyeballs breaking the waterline? Yet as NPS signs state: “Dangerous alligators are created by people. It is illegal to feed any wildlife.” Photo #10 by NPS / G. Gardner

Great Egret in the Cypress at Everglades National Park

Everglades is remarkably large and filled with things other than scenic landscapes. Wildlife comes in many forms from a wide array of habitats. Did you know?…There are more insects in Everglades National Park than any other group of animals. Here a Great Egret rests in the Cypress. Photo #11 by NPS

Double Crested Cormorant fishing at Everglades National Park

Double Crested Cormorant fishing at Everglades National Park. Photo #12 by R. Cammauf / NPS

Alligator eating bird Everglades National Park

Alligator eating bird Everglades National Park. Photo #13 by NPS

Baby alligator playing with mom, Everglades

Baby alligator playing with mom. Did you know? “Female alligators will vehemently protect their nests and their young until they reach one to two years of age. Keep your eyes out for baby alligators in the Everglades – they’re about a foot long with yellow stripes.” Photo #14 by PurpleTulips (Grace & Ray)

Alligator and turtle, survival of the fittest at Everglades National Park

Alligator and turtle, survival of the fittest. Photo #15 by otzberg

Burmese python eating deer, other Everglades wildlife sparked the great Florida snake hunt

Burmese python eating deer, other Everglades wildlife sparked the great Florida snake hunt. Apparently people letting their pets loose has caused a huge problem because alien / exotic / non-native species throw the ecosystems out of whack. “Despite what has been portrayed in popular reality television shows, the Burmese pythons in the Everglades can be extremely dangerous when provoked,” stated Melissa Coakley, a spokeswoman for the Florida-based Suncoast Herpetological Society. After a 3-day state-coordinated snake hunt turned up 5 African rock pythons, including a 14-foot-long-female, folks in the Everglades started fearing a new “super snake.” The biggest Burmese snake captured in 2012 was 17.7 feet (5.4 m) long and 160 pounds; that set a new record at Everglades National Park. In the state-sponsored month-long “2013 Python Challenge,” snake hunters caught “a mere” 68 Burmese python snakes, including a 14-ft python that was outfitted with transmitters and released back into the wild “to show them where to find the thousands of snakes hiding in the wild and lead them to breeding females.” Photo #16 by marsmettnn tallahassee

Gator vs python at Everglades National Park

Gator vs python. Experts predict that about “150,000 pythons are living in the Florida Everglades.” Besides having no natural predator and killing off Everglades’ wildlife, some giant snakes come back to civilization to feed on pets like cats, dogs and some people fear for small children. Photo #17 by Everglades NPS

Dead Gator who ate Python

In this case of gator vs. python, this is the dead gator after the gator ate the python. Photo #18 by Everglades NPS

Old world climbing fern infestation in southern Florida

It’s not just wildlife fighting, but invasive plants too like this old world climbing fern infestation in southern Florida. “Invasive species in the Florida Everglades were introduced both on purpose and by accident. Altering water flows and the natural pattern of wildfires allowed exotic plants, such as the Brazilian peppertree, Chinese privet, melaleuca and Old World climbing fern to invade. 1.5 million acres of the Everglades have been invaded by nonnative plants.” Photo #19 by Peggy Greb, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Dolphin Florida Bay, Everglades NP

Dolphins and wading birds at Florida Bay, Everglades NP. Florida Bay is almost 1/3 the total size of Everglades National Park. Most islands in Florida Bay are closed to visitor access in order to protect nesting birds. The diversity of wildlife at this national park is mind-blowing. Photo #20 by R. Cammauf / NPS

Beached whales, Highland Beach, Everglades National Park

In Dec. 2013, a pod of 51 whales were found in a remote area of the Everglades called Highland Beach; it was over 20 miles away from water deep enough to support them. 10 of the beached whales died, four of which were euthanized. Photo #21 by Everglades NPS

Everglades National Park Mahogany Hammock Trail

Mahogany Hammock Trail. Tropical Hardwood Hammocks “are closed canopy forests” that “grow on a natural rise of only a few inches in elevation. Hammocks can be found nestled in most all other Everglades ecosystems.” NPS adds, “Because of their slight elevation, hammocks rarely flood. Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire.” Photo #22 by Miguel Vieira

Pa-hay-okee Overlook, Everglades NP habitat

Another habitat, Pa-hay-okee Overlook. If you love nature adventures, then you realize how nature can balance you. Part of that unique experience is the soundscape, something that NPS protects and records such as in Shark Valley, Pinelands, North Nest Key, Eco Pond, Cane Patch and Pay-hay-okee
The Everglades edition of Name that Tune includes the following sounds recorded in the national park: anhinga, alligator, alligator and pig frog, cricket frog, Eastern screech owl, great egret, green tree frog, gulf toadfish, pig frog, Seminole bat, Southern leopard frog and a thunderstorm. Photo #23 by NPS

Shark Valley Lookout Tower

Shark Valley Lookout Tower provides panoramic 360-degree views of the River of Grass. According to NPS, “Shark Valley lies in the heart of the ‘True Everglades,’ or river of grass, that stretches 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. Wildlife abounds here where animals share a freshwater ecosystem of sawgrass marsh and tree islands. Those wishing to explore alone can walk the short trails and portions of the tram road, or bike. An observation tower located halfway around the tram road provides a spectacular view into the sawgrass marsh.” Photo #24 by Timothy Valentine

Storm coming to Everglades National Park

Storm coming. Did you know?…”Everglades National Park, which protects over 1.5 million acres, is the 3rd largest national park in the lower 48 states, behind Yellowstone National Park (2nd) and Death Valley National Park (1st).” Photo #25 by Timothy Valentine

Mangroves in river of grass. Photo #26 by G. Gardner / NPS

Manatee in Taylor River

Aerial photo of a manatee in the river. Photo #27 by Everglades NPS

Great Egret in the Everglades

Great Egret in the Everglades. Photo #28 by Len Radin

Osprey and Spotted Seatrout at Everglades National Park

Osprey and Spotted Sea-trout. Photo #29 by Gregory “Greg” Smith

Double-crested cormorant from Everglades National Park Anhinga Trail

NPS asked, “Did you know?…In the 1800s John James Audubon noted that the sky was often darkened by the flocks of numerous birds above. Since the early 20th century, around 93% of the wading bird population has vanished. Much of the wildlife left in south Florida depends on Everglades National Park for a home.” Photo #30 by Miguel Vieira

Profile of American crocodile

Profile of American crocodile. Listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger, UNESCO states, “The Everglades protect 800 species of land and water vertebrates, including over 14 threatened species, and 25 mammals, over 400 bird species, 60 known species of reptile, amphibian and insect, including two threatened swallowtail butterfly species. Over 20 species of snake have been recorded, including the threatened indigo snake. More than 275 species of fish are known from the Everglades, most inhabiting the marine and estuarine waters. Several species are important game species that attract thousands of anglers to the park. During autumn a continuous procession of songbirds and other migrants fly over or rest on these islands.” Photo #31 by Everglades NPS

American crocodile at Everglades National Park

American crocodile at Everglades National Park. Photo #32 by Everglades NPS

Bloody sunset at Everglades, Florida

Bloody sunset at Everglades, Florida. Photo #33 by QQ Li

Everglades Camping on the Southern Most Tip of The Continental US

There are nightscapes galore in the Everglades: Camping on the southern-most tip of the Continental US, as seen in Camping Under the Stars [42 PICS]. “The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become,” ~ quote by Heraclitus. Photo #34 by Nate Bolt

One last thought to chew over via a 12-year-old video (1992) and Florida-born artist John Anderson: Seminole Wind. Video #1 by John Anderson / BNA / CMT / via Hg Car Captain

Camping Under the Stars [42 PICS]
Endearing, Endangered Gentle Giants: Marvelous Manatees [44 PICS]
Incredible Yellowstone National Park Wildlife [60 PICS]

Just a note to say it’s been one thing after another since May. A horrific storm with F2 winds (over 120 mph) but not a tornado caused so much damage and was followed immediately by flash flooding that the area was declared a disaster. Then no electricity for a quite a long time. Then not one, but two different hospital stays. Then a huge fire (dubbed as “intentional”) that wiped out one house and damaged others. In short, that’s why there has been such delay between posts. A couple examples grabbed via phone:
Flash flood after tornado wind microburst
Fire dubbed as arson

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