Experiencing our nation through its environments, animals, people and history.

Galatians 5:1

Friday, December 18, 2009

Everglades National Park

HI Friends!! We know its getting close to Christmas, and we hope you all are staying warm and enjoying the holidays. We are still soaking up the sun in southern Florida, exploring as much as we can until we move up to colder climates next month. Our latest little adventure took us to the Everglades National Park, which covers the expanse of Southern Florida. You know most National Parks boast great mountain peaks, but this one.... is more like a river of grass that comes from Lake Okeechobee all the way down to the Keys. It has an amazing array of wetland birds, and of course, alligators abound. We actually have a gator family that lives in our camp right now, and its been a little intimidating riding our bikes around, knowing there are gators in the river. Well this park was the perfect place to learn more about our friend Stumpy and all the challenges Floridians have forced on his habitat.
We went on a ranger walk along one of the many boardwalks in the park. Did you know that 800 people move to Florida a DAY? Might be an old statistic, but goes to show the growing number of people here and thus the need to redirect water from Okeechobee over to the populated coastal communities (Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, etc.). The result is a lot less water flowing over the grasses, and a lot less birds, and the entire habitat disrupted by unnatural water cycles. They are currently undergoing a plan to reestablish this as a natural environment, but it now survives on "life support" with water being pumped in.
This is a cormorant, one of the many birds that hang out here and make themselves alligator food!
We observed birds and especially liked the Wood Stork, one of the endangered species here. Did you know gators eat about once a week? They are cold blooded reptiles, so they come out to sun themselves warm, but if its too hot they stay down in the water. It was pretty hot when we were there, so we saw a lot swimming. They swim with their tail and let their legs just hang on the side. But if they need to run on land, they can go faster than a panther!!We also spent some time listening to sounds in the environment... which ones are natural? Which ones are the result of humans? You could try this at home... see how often you hear a wild animal versus how many times you hear a car.
Part of our learning included taking a pledge that we would be people who try to protect animals in thier natural habitats, and help educate others. Here is Jo, reading his pledge to one of the gators that he thought "liked him.."
"I will tell people about what I've learned, and continue to explore the natural wonders of our world!"
(Amen to that!)

1 comment:

Tonya @ Live the Adventure said...

Looks like you had a great day! Loved the pictures and thought the first one was hilarious! We've dreamed of visiting the Everglades, but the farthest South we made it on our last visit was to Sanibel. Maybe we'll actually make it the next time around!

Blessings from another FOTR!:)