Interesting Facts About the Everglades

everglades airboat tourHow much do you know about the Everglades? At Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours, we spend a lot of time zipping through the waters of the Everglades, so we thought we’d share some quick and fun facts about this beautiful Park with you.

  • The Park is home to 13 endangered species.
  • The Park is home to 10 threatened species.
  • The Everglades has the largest continuous sawgrass prairie in North America.
  • The Everglades has the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
  • It is home to the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America.
  • It is a water recharge area for all of South Florida through the Biscayne aquifer.
  • It provides water for more than 8 million Florida residents.
  • It is a World Heritage site.
  • The Park is a Biosphere Reserve.
  • It is a Wetland of International Significance.
  • The Everglades is home to 9 different/distinct habitats.
  • The Everglades is actually a river that is constantly moving.
  • It is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist.
  • The Everglades used to be more than 8 million acres in size.
  • Now, the Everglades is around 1.5 million acres in size.
  • The Park is home to more than 350 species of birds and 300 species of fish.
  • The Everglades is North America’s largest subtropical wetland ecosystem.
  • The Everglades has two seasons: wet and dry.
  • Its nickname is “River of Grass.”
  • Local Native Americans called the Everglades “Pahayokee,” which means “grassy waters.”
  • On average, 75 inches of rain falls into the Park.
  • Most of the water in the Everglades is fresh water not salt water.
  • Calusa Indians are the tribe who lived in the Everglades and southern Florida as far back as 1000 B.C.
  • Airboats are iconic in this Park.

Come jump on an airboat an experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip. If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to explore it is through an airboat tour. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in the “River of Grass” for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.

 

Everglades Animal Profile: Bobcat

bobcatThe bobcat may be cute, but it not a feline you can cuddle and pet. Bobcats can easily be spotted in the Everglades and are not endangered. They are mainly nocturnal creatures but can be seen during daylight. In the Everglades, bobcats have been seen walking around Bear Lake Trail, Snake Bight Trail, and the main Park road.

Bobcats can live in various types of habitats. In one day, an adult bobcat can travel anywhere from 5 to 50 miles looking for food. Its prey includes: small mammals (squirrels, opossums, rodents), birds, and fish.

Bobcats are much smaller than the Florida panther, who can also be found in the Everglades. They two coexist in the Park.

Bobcats have short tails and have fringed fur on the sides of their head. Their weight can range from 13 to 35 pounds, and they can grow up to 50 inches in length.  Their fur is spotted with white, black, red, brown, and gray markings. Bobcats can live up to 14 years in the wild.

Bobcats can be spotted in forests, trails, swamps, and even backyards. They don’t just live in Florida. In fact, they have been known to live from Canada all the way down to Central America.

The bobcat will “live” in a den it creates in a tree, cave, or open shelter. Often, bobcats has more than one den spread across different areas, incase they need shelter.  A female bobcat will have 1-2 kittens in a litter. Bobcat mating season is August to March.

For the most part, a bobcat will not approach a human. For your safety, it’s best to leave a bobcat, and all wildlife alone while in the wild or the Everglades.

Come on an airboat tour and see if you can spot a bobcat walking around during daylight! Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to in the Everglades for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page or call 800-368-0065.

Learn About Science and Research in the Everglades

scienceThe Everglades is a scientist’s dream. There is so much to explore, research, track, and investigate in the River of Grass. Research is occurring in the Everglades year-round. From climate change to animals, researchers are learning more about this special Park.

What type of research is occurring in the Park? The South Florida Natural Resources Center (SFNRC) conducts science, which informs the management of the south Florida national park units. Such programs include: wildlife, hydrology, water quality, restoration, invasive plants, and animals. This organization gives out research permits to those who are interested in conducting research from universities, and non-governmental organizations and agencies. The Park gives out permits to support and encourage natural and social science studies with the hope that these studies will help with our understanding of the park’s resources, and how its usage affects/impacts the ecosystem.

Some programs include: Ride and Slough Ecology Program, Ecological Modeling Program, Hydrologic Modeling Program, Wildlife Monitoring Program, Aquatics Program, Invasive Plant Program, Invasive Animal Program, Marine and Estuarine Resources Management, Modified Water Deliveries Project, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Project, and the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Project.

The Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (CESI) funds research projects that are focused on ecosystem restoration in the Everglades and South Florida. This initiative has been in place for the last 15 years, and has helped created a better understanding of the research. With these projects, researchers have learned what should be monitored, the status of certain species in ecosystems, trends in the ecosystem, and how to streamline assessment of restoration efforts.

To learn more about everglades research, click here. If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to experience it is through an airboat tour. You’ll be able to see the dynamic ecosystem up-close-and-personal. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.

 

Where Should You Enter the Park?

parkThe Everglades is vast! There are so many different areas to explore… 1.5 million acres of land to be exact. The Park has three entrances that are hours apart from each other, so before you head down, you should decide which entrance you’d like to enter.  Your decision should be based on where you want to go and see and do. Here are the Park’s entrances:

Shark Valley in Miami: This area is considered the heartland of the Everglades. You can walk, bike, or ride a tram along a 15-mile loop from this entrance. There is a 65-foot observation tower that gives you an amazing view of the Everglades. You will definitely get to see birds, fish, turtles, alligators and more while in Shark Valley.

Gulf Coast in Everglades City: This center allows you to take a boat tour (on your own or scheduled) to see different sights. You can explore the Gulf Coast and mangrove estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands from this area.

Royal Palm in Homestead: At this entrance you can go on the Anhinga Trail or the Gumbo Limbo Trail. Lots of wildlife can be spotted on the Anhinga Trail, which borders the Taylor Slough. The Gumbo Limbo Trail goes through a hardwood hammock. This is the Park’s main entrance.

If you follow the Everglades road, you can take the Pineland trail, which is a half mile around a pine forest. Or, you can go down the Pahavokee Overlook, which is a boardwalk trail with an observation platform looking over the Park. Lastly, this road can take you to the Mahogany Hammock Trail which goes through a dense hammock of air plants and gumbo-limbo trees. It is home to the largest mahogany tree in the United States. At the end of the road, you will find Flamingo followed by Florida Bay.

Want to explore the Everglades in another way? Not on foot? An airboat tour is the way to go!  If you go toward Homestead you can get on an air boat with Captain Mitch! An airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you an up close look of the Everglades. You’ll get to see lots of wildlife and plants on this trip. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

Make a Trip to the Everglades Educational

educationalThe Everglades isn’t just a fun place to explore, it can be very educational, as well. From the ecosystem to animals, there’s so much to learn about or in this National Park. Whether you’re an educator or a parent, the Everglades is a great place to bring children and teenagers to educate them on so many different topics.

The National Park Service and Everglades National Park offers a lot of different materials for educators or parents to use with their children in the classroom, at home, or even in the Park itself.

Below, we wanted to share some of these guides:

  • Life of the Everglades ID Sheet – This worksheet has pictures of common plants and animals seen in sloughs and sawgrass prairie areas like the Anhinga Trail. You can easily bring this sheet to the Park to identify a certain plant or animal you spot.
  • K-3: Everglades ABCs – This guide is filled with a lot of classroom activities for young children.
  • 4th Grade: The Journey of Wayne Drop: This guide teacher fourth grader about the Everglades Watershed through an interactive trip through the Park.
  • 4th-6th Activity Guide – This guide provides interactive indoor and outdoor activities about the Park, plants, animals, native peoples, and more.
  • Climate Change Activities – These activities aim to teach 5th and 6th grade students about the greenhouse effect, sea level rising, and carbon budget.
  • 5th-8th Don’t Let it Loose Activity Guide: This guide talks about non-native and invasive species that are not good for the natural ecosystem.
  • K-8: Everglades Mountains & Valleys Lessons Plans: These are curriculum-based plans and activities written by local south Florida teachers and park rangers.

 

Whether you’re a teacher, home school children, run a day care, or are just bringing your kids to the Park, these activities are a great way for them to learn about what’s happening to and in the Park. To request for these guides, call  (305) 242-7753.

To view all the wonderful plant life and wildlife you will read in these guides, go on an airboat tour! Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

Info on the Flamingo Visitor Center

flamingo visitor centerAs you may have heard, the Everglades National Park won a preservation grant that will be used to restore the outside of the Flamingo Visitor Center. This visitor center has been a popular spot and attraction for visitors since the 1960s. The Center was originally built as part of the “Mission 66” program to modernize the parks for visitors.

The Flamingo Visitor Center was built in the style of the Park Service combined with the Miami Modern style. The Miami style was developed post World War II; it reflects an international style by adds glamour, fun, and material excesses that go beyond simple modern architecture. Flamingo has bold colors, a Keystone veneer, jalousie windows and louvered screen walls.

The Park was one of 20 national parks competing for the grant. The $250,000 grant will repair the outside of the building, the landscape, and improve the visitor experience by opening a new visitor center inside.

Inside the Flamingo Visitor Center, there are educational displays, brochures, and backcountry permits. You can easily access campgrounds, a public boat ramp, a marina store, and hiking and canoeing trails near this center.

The Buttonwood Café is open in the winter. However, it is closed currently after damage from Hurricane Irma. Boat ramps are open, but fuel is unavailable and the marina store is closed. It is essential for visitors to the area to bring their own food and water.

Want to explore the Everglades in a fun and exciting way? An airboat tour is the way to go!  An airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. You’ll get to see lots of animals and plants on this trip. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

 

Activities in the Everglades

activities in the evergladesThe Everglades is a really fun and interesting, but if you want to do more than just explore the Park on your own there’s plenty of fun tours and activities happening regularly in the Park. Summer is approaching so the activities in Park have ended for the season, but if you want to venture into the Park during the summer months, there is still plenty for you to do.  Below, we wanted to share with you some activities in the Everglades:

  • Anhinga Amble – This is a 50-minute stroll on the Anhinga Trail where you will get a chance to see alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife. The stroll is every day from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and starts at Royal Palm. It is free with Park entrance.
  • Glades Glimpse – Listen to a ranger talk about many different topics within the Everglades. Topics vary daily. This talk occurs every day from 1:30 to 2 p.m. and starts at Royal Palm. It is free with Park entrance.
  • Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours – Take in all the sights and sounds of the Everglades as you zip through the water. Captain Mitch and his team have been navigating these waters for decades. Your time at Captain Mitch’s will be one of the greatest memories of the Florida Everglades ecosystem and swamplands, whether you are visiting or a year-round resident. It’s a unique way to explore!
  • Camping – Camping during the wet season (June through November) can be difficult and uncomfortable due to heat and rain. Campers must bring their own equipment.
  • Biking, canoeing, and kayaking can be done year-round. Remember to read signs so you know where you’re allowed to take your boat/bike.

If you’re tired of walking and want a chance to see more of the Everglades, an airboat tour is ideal!  A tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. Captain Mitch has been navigating the Everglades for decades! To book an airboat ride, click Everglades airboat rides page or call 800-368-0065.

 

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The South Florida Caribbean Network  

south florida caribbean networkThe South Florida/Caribbean Network (SFCN) is a monitoring network across the National Park Service; its one of 32, actually. These networks have an inventory and monitoring program. Through this gathering of inventory and monitoring, the SFCN gives park rangers a better way to manage park resources. There are seven parks in the SFCN network including: Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, and Virgin Islands National Park 

Each one of these parks comes with its own challenges it has to face whether its water management, declining coral reefs, mercury toxicity, global warming, invasive species, weather concerns, sustainable fisheries, land use, rising sea levels, visitor usage, and more.  

The SFCN staff is a team made up of biologists and ecologists. They monitor air quality, geology, soil, invasive species, landscape dynamics, marine communities, wildlife, terrestrial/freshwater vegetation and wildlife, threatened and rare species, visitor usage, water/hydrology, and water quality.  

The SFCN believes in order to properly manage and care for these parks in the long term, there needs to be a knowledge of the resources in the parks. They do inventory to acquire a baseline of information.  

The SFCN’s website is loaded with quality information sharing all inventories and things monitored. There are detailed lists, documents, and reports of everything happening in the park. If you’re interested in the current status of the Everglades, this site can give you some great insight. To learn more about the Everglades and the SFCN, click here 

Want to explore the Everglades for yourself? Take your own inventory of all the animals, birds, and plants you see on an airboat tour! If you’ve never been to the Everglades, an airboat tour is a great way to explore it. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click here or call 800-368-0065.   

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness 

marjory stoneman douglas wildernessFor unfortunate reasons, we heard this name mentioned in the news back in February, but the Parkland high school and parts of the Everglades were named after the American journalist, conversationalist and women’s suffrage advocate.  

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness makes up around 1.3 million acres of the Everglades National Park. In 1964, the Wilderness Act was created, and stated ““A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.” 

Within this act, 86 percent of the Everglades was designated the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness in 1978. The designated land is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and it’s the largest wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains. This area of land has the highest level of protection on it as possible. Within the Everglades, the largest protect stand of sawgrass in North America exists and the largest protect mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere lives. Also, this protected area is home to 21 federally threatened and endangered species.  

In the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness area, people have the chance to explore the Park both during the day and night. One-third of this protected area is submerged, as the seal floor is designated wilderness. Since it’s protected, this area helps keep the South Florida’s water source protected; this area also protects other parts of Florida from incoming storms (like hurricanes).  

Regulation on land and in water are put in place in this area to assure animals safety and promote nesting. Be prepared for rules in the Park! There are rules regarding camping, pets, motor vehicles, generators, and more. To find out these rules, visit www.nps.gov 

Fire Can Be Good for the Everglades 

fireIt’s dry season in Florida and the Everglades, which means fires (unfortunately) pop up across the state. Last year was a particularly bad year for fires. In just the beginning of May alone last year, there was 125 active fires across the state burning 31,000 acres.  Although these fires are harmful to wildlife, plant life and humans, there actually beneficial (in moderation) to the ecosystem.  

For the Pinelands area of the Everglades, fires kill off the hammock species that would end up overpowering pines and many other plants. The hammock species create too much shadow that the other plants receive no sunlight and die off. Pinelands respond well to fires that come through and bounce back quickly.   Hammocks have also adapted to fires and can protect themselves from burning out completely from fires.  

Fires can also help keep grassy prairies in check; too much grass keeps the water from flowing properly in the Everglades, and the fire can burn away some grass. Fires also help mangroves from overpowering other plants in the wetland.  

Park officials monitor all fires in the Everglades, regardless if they are near people or not.   

The River of Grass Prescribed Fire Plan uses fire to help restore and maintain wet prairies and sawgrass marshes and to reduce hazardous fuels in proximity of occupied Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. These are conducted in the Pay-Hay-Okee, East Everglades, Shark Valley, Stair-Steps and Taylor Slough areas. These fires alone are started because relying on natural fires alone would not slow the shrub encroachment. These prescribed fires work with naturals fires and are not created to replace natural fires.  

Other fires are started to reduce the invasion of exotic plants into natural areas. These invasive exotic plants can kill the Everglades’ natural flora.  

Although fire is unhealthy for humans to be around and can hurt good plants, it can also help keep a balanced ecosystem. Park officals and firefighters work tirelessly throughout the year to keep the fires from spreading into developments.  

If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to experience it is through an airboat tour. You’ll be able to see the ecosystem up-close-and-personal. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours has been giving tours to people in this wetland for more than 30 years. To book a tour. Click our Everglades airboat tour page  or call 800-368-0065.