Everglades Invasive Species: Melaleuca  

melaleucaThe Everglades is home to 100 species of seed-bearing plants and 120 species of trees. In fact, there are more plants found in the Everglades than anywhere else in the world. However, some of these species are not native to the Everglades and can cause problems to the native species. For this article, we wanted to share with you some information on the invasive plant: Melaleuca quinquenervia.

The melaleuca is known as the paperback or punk tree that is part of the eucalyptus family. It is originally from Australia, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. The tree was brought to southern Florida in the early 1900s for landscaping purposes and swamp drying.

This tree has spongy, white bark that peels. It can grow up to 80 feet tall. Its leaves are green and are about two to six inches in length. The tree produces white flowers and small fruit/seed capsules.

Unfortunately, the melaleuca aggressively invades and spread rapidly. It can turn marshes and wet prairies into thickets. An adult tree can produce more than a million seeds per year and store 20 million seeds. The seeds get released if there is a frost, fire, or herbicide application. This plant is one of the greatest threats to the Everglades’ ecosystem.

Researchers, officials, and park workers are working to get this tree out of the park. Young trees can be pulled out by hand, medium trees can be pushed over, and larger trees are cut down. Due to lots of seeds being spread around, follow-up removal or herbicide treatment is required.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to see if the snout beetle will be worth using in the fight against the melaleuca. This type of beetle is known to feed on the melaleuca’s shoots, which keeps it from reproducing.

Herbicide is currently used for a largest infested area, but it can cause the tree to release its seeds, which makes the problem worse.

Explore the Everglades on An Airboat

Problems in the Everglades go well beyond the Burmese Python. As you can see, other invasive species are threatening the ecosystem. We thank the park workers, scientists, researchers, and officials, who are working on managing and eliminating all threats to the Everglades’ livelihood.

We want the Everglades to be here for many generations ahead.

Like stated above, the Everglades is full of plant species (many native), and they are beautiful to see in person. A great way to view the plant life and Everglades is on an airboat. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.

The Everglades Needs More Freshwater

freshwaterIt isn’t easy being the Everglades right now. The beautiful ecosystem has been struggling as it combats human development, pollution, invasive species, and climate change. To add more fuel to the fire, the Everglades need more freshwater. Why?  Due to rising sea levels, the Everglades has been filled with higher salinity in its waters, and more saltwater in the area could make things worse.

When the salinity is high in the water and water levels are low, the Everglades releases up to three times the amount of carbon dioxide than it should, according to scientists at FIU. The peat soil in the Everglades traps carbon dioxide when the water is high. Saltwater can cause the peat soil to break down, which is when the carbon dioxide gets released.

According to FIU, the amount of carbon dioxide being released from the Everglades when saltwater hits the peat soil is comparable to 35,000 cars emitting carbon dioxide in one year.

The increased salinity in the Everglades water has been killing plant roots in fresh water and brackish water marshes. In fact, 65 percent of plant roots in the fresh water marshes and 72 percent of the roots in brackish waters have died because of the increase in saltwater, which is due to the seal level rising.

FIU is able to study the effects of saltwater in the Everglades thanks to a Florida Sea Grant and the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research (FCE-LTER) program.

Explore the Everglades in an Airboat

Thanks to the work of researchers and scientists, the Everglades is being monitored, watched, and renovated to return to a state in which is can thrive. The Everglades is a beautiful place, we have been air-boating through its waters for decades and we’re hoping to for many years more!

At Captain Mitch’s Private Airboat Tours, we respect the Everglades with everything we do.

Come down and check out the beautiful Everglades on an airboat ride. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.


Reasons to go on an Airboat Tour

airboat tourFresh air hitting your face. Beautiful views. Wildlife sightings. If you’ve never been an airboat tour, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t ever forget. Airboat tours are fun and give you an amazing view of the Everglades.

For this article, we wanted to share with you some reasons you should go on an airboat tour the next time you’re in Florida or in the Everglades.

  • Any age can enjoy these rides.
  • You’ll learn a lot about wildlife, plant life, and the Everglades from the airboat captain.
  • The airboat is safely equipped in case of any emergency. Life jackets and ear protection are provided.
  • Airboats are properly maintained and inspected throughout the year, so they are working properly.
  • You get the chance to possibly see alligators, birds, turtles, fish, and other wild life.
  • You’ll get to go fast on the water.
  • There’s never a bad time to go on an airboat ride. The weather is always comfortable!
  • You will have breathtaking views of the Everglades.
  • You get views of the Everglades you can’t get anywhere else.
  • You get a private tour.
  • Airboats can go in places big boats cannot go.
  • You can enjoy this experience with family and friends.
  • You will see different things each time you go out on an airboat.

Explore the Everglades by Private Airboat

Captain Mitch has been involved in airboat tours for more than 30 years in the Everglades. Captain Mitch and his team are filled with so much knowledge of the area – you will learn so much while having fun exploring the Everglades’ ecosystem. Whether this is your first time on an airboat or your 50th time, we know you’ll have a memorable experience.

Florida resident? Tourist? Doesn’t matter! Airboats are fun for everyone!  Come check out this magical national park.To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.




Everglades Invasive Species: Brazilian Pepper

brazilian pepperIn an earlier article, we discussed the Hole-in-the-Donut Wetland Restoration Project happening in the Everglades. A big part of this restoration is getting rid of the invasive species the Brazilian pepper. This plant is hurting the plant life around it, so it’s essential it is removed so native plants can thrive. It is one of the most invasive plants in the state of Florida.

The Brazilian Pepper is also known as the schinus terebinthifolius.  It is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.  This plant is an evergreen that is bushy with multiple stemmed trunks and branches. Its leaves are 3-inches long. It produces white flower clusters and red berries.

The Brazilian pepper plant made its way to North America in the 1840s. it was brought here to be an ornamental plant in people’s yards and properties. However, this plant has become invasive and spread itself into farmlands, pinelands, roadsides, hardwood hammocks, and mangrove forests.

It is an aggressive plant and it keeps native vegetation from growing. How? It produces a chemical that suppresses the growth of other plants. The Brazilian pepper is fire resistant and salt-tolerant.

This plant isn’t even good for humans as its chemicals can also irritate skin and the respiratory system through its leaves, berries, and flowers.

Researchers continue to look for ways to manage and tame this invasive species. Around 200 insects eat this plant, so there is a chance these insects will be released to help control the plant and its growth. Herbicides are also helping to control this plant.

This plant is a living organism, but it is not native to the Everglades, so it’s causing a lot of problems for native plants. We want the native plants to survive here, so it is important to reduce or eradicate the invasive species in order for the survival of the native ones.

Explore the Everglades in an Airboat

Come and check out all the beautiful native species in the Everglades on an airboat ride. You’ll get to see lots of wildlife and plant life as you zip on by in the water. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.



Everglades Animal Profile: Turkey Vulture

turkey vultureWith Thanksgiving almost here, we thought it was appropriate to do a species profile with the star of Thanksgiving in its name: The Turkey Vulture.  Here are some facts about the turkey vulture who lives in the Everglades.

  • It has a bald, red head.
  • Its underwings have a silver color.
  • While in flight, its wings are in a “V” shape.
  • This type of bird is a scavenger.
  • It feeds mostly on dead animals.
  • It had a black body/feathers over most of its body.
  • They have long wings and tails.
  • They are smaller than an eagle but larger than a red-tailed hawk.
  • They grow to 25-32 inches in length.
  • They weigh around 70 ounces.
  • Their wingspan is around 66 to 70 inches.
  • They are spotted gliding in the air a lot.
  • They roost in larger groups.
  • They are usually found on roadsides, landfills, suburbs, farms, trash dumps, and construction sites.
  • At night or in the cold, they can be found in dead trees, poles, and posts.
  • They can easily be spotted while driving.
  • The oldest turkey vulture recorded was 16 years old and 10 months in Ohio.
  • It has been spotted in Canada all the way down to South America.
  • It only makes grunts or hisses for sounds because unlike other birds the turkey vulture does not have a syrinx, which is a vocal organ birds have.
  • The turkey vulture nests in caves, hollow trees, or thickets.
  • On average, these birds have two offspring per year.
  • This bird has few predators.
  • The turkey vulture is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

See the Everglades in an Airboat

You’ll never know what you will see on an airboat tour in the Everglades. You may get a glimpse of a turkey vulture gliding above you. Come down to the Everglades to see this bird and hundreds of other species.

Airboats give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.



Hole-in-the-Donut Wetland Restoration in the Everglades

hole-in-the-donutAs you probably know by now, the Everglades is going through a number of restoration projects that are costing in the millions. Why? The Everglades is being restored to its natural state. Many projects are working on getting the water in the Everglades to flow in the proper direction again.

For this article, we wanted to discuss the Hole-in-the-Donut Restoration Project, which is a 6,300-acre restoration. For this restoration, the Park, along with Miami-Dade County and the National Park Foundation have partnered up to restore these acres of former agricultural land in the Park known as “Hole-in-the-Donut.”

Through the Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Water Management Districts, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this restoration project came about as an In-Lieu Fee Project and mitigation bank. Using mitigation funds from credits applied to permitted development projects in Miami-Dad and Broward Counties, the Park started the wetland restoration and exotic plant removal.

This is a large project that will restore 6,300 acres of short-hydroperiod wetland, but also help the habitats around Hole-in-the-Donut that are suffering from the Brazilian pepper invasion. This project has been more than a decade in the making.

In this project, invasive plants will be removed, restoration, monitoring, and management will occur, and mitigation will be provided for permitted development activities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

As the area becomes restored, more naturally-occurring plants, like sawgrass, are multiplying and replenishing themselves. Birds and animals are returning more and more back to this area.

As of right now, 5,328 acres have been restored.

Through restoration projects like this one, the ecosystem can return back to normal in the Everglades, and more plants and animals will begin to thrive.


Explore the Everglades in an Airboat

Restoration is crucial to the survival of the Everglades. Without restoration, the wetland would disappear. Come explore this majestic land by airboat. Airboats can bring visitors to places beyond where a walking or biking trail can reach. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.


The Red Tide and the Restoration of the Everglades

red tideBy now, you’ve probably seen footage or read stories about the algae problems in the Caloosahatchee River and the red tide. This red tide has been lingering off the shore since November. Images of dead fish and sea turtles are heartbreaking.

One main key to fixing this problem lies in the restoration of the Everglades. Once the Everglades returns to its natural flow of water, the algae problem should subside.

Southern Florida had a very wet May, so algae blooms filled Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River in June. The Caloosahatchee looks like a blue-green slimy water because of all the algae floating within it. The algae thrives in hot, stagnant water.

Nutrients from the lake have gone into the river, which has fed the algae bloom. The bloom starts at the lake and extends to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee.  When the algae gets large, it gathers at the surface creating a toxic, smelly, unattractive slime in the water.

These algae produce a toxin. If you encounter the algae (or are close to it) you can feel the effects such as headache, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and pneumonia. If you’re exposed to the algae for long periods, you are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and ALS.

The algae is making people sick, killing sea life, hurting the fishing industry, and hurting the Florida tourism industry as people cannot go out in boats, paddleboards, kayaks, or swim because of the toxic algae lurking in the lake, river, and Gulf waters.

Other findings show there needs to be a better regulation of agricultural runoff from sugar cane and other farms in south Florida, but the changed waterways are a big part of why there is an algae and red tide problem each year.

The hope is with more regulations and restoration the algae will not grow in such big numbers and cause health problems and sea life deaths.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

It’s unfortunate and a travesty that the southwest coast is experience the red tide, but the Everglades is clean and OK for people to explore, especially by airboat. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.



2018 Wading Bird Nesting Season

nesting seasonEvery winter, birds flock down to Florida, and the Everglades, to beat the cold but to also nest. Nesting season is extremely important because it solidifies the future of these species of birds, especially those who are endangered and nearing extinction.

Each year, certain areas of Everglades Park are closed so the birds can nest in private without the possibility of being disturbed by humans. Any change in the environment (humans or not) can keep the birds from wanting to nest in the Everglades or nesting at all, so it’s extremely important to give the birds their space.

The 2018 wading bird nesting seas in the Park was successful. The number of wading birds nesting was a large number. For the first time since the 1940s, the White Ibis nesting pairs were in high numbers. As of May 2018, the baby birds fled or left their nests.

The White Ibis breeding groups are called supercolonies. These supercolonies haven’t really existed in the Everglades since humans re-directed the water years ago. With the restoration of the Everglades, one goal is to return the water to its original flow and increase the waterflow, so the land will resemble the water conditions it had before people inhabited the area. One-way scientists measure the success of the restoration is through the number of wading bird colonies during the nesting season. This year’s wading bird season is showing that life can turn back to its normal ways in the Everglades through water and ecosystem restoration, but there’s still a long way to go.
Explore the Everglades by Airboat

Check out the Everglades wonderful birdlife and wildlife by airboat! You may not be able to se close to nesting birds, but you will be able to spots many bird species on a trip!

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We can point out birds to you on the trip! If you love birds, come for a ride on an airboat! To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.


Visiting the Everglades During the Wet Season

evergladesWe’re amid the wet season right now in Florida and the Everglades; the season runs through November and started in May.

Before heading out into the Park, you should be prepared in knowing what to expect of the Everglades during this wet season.

  • Average temperatures can be as high at 90 degrees.
  • Humidity can be over 90 percent.
  • Heat index can be over 100 degrees.
  • Every day, you can expect an afternoon thunderstorm. These storms usually pass by quickly.
  • Weather can be unpredictable (more than usual) because of the torrential rain and thunderstorms – it’s hard to say when they’ll arrive and for how long.
  • It’s hard to see wildlife this time of year because of the wetter conditions, higher water levels, and high temperatures.
  • Insects are in high numbers, including mosquitoes, so it’s best you come equipped with bug spray or clothing to minimize the amount of exposed skin.
  • There are less tours during the wet season.
  • Some facilities and areas may be closed or partially closed during this season.
  • Less people make the Park easier to explore and it is quieter.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

Come out and explore the Everglades during the wet season. Come during the morning to avoid the rain storms! Come prepared with bug spray, hats, sunglasses, and water, so you can have a comfortable trip. Unfortunately, you may not see as much wildlife as you would during the dry season, but they’re still plenty of creatures around. Also, you don’t have to deal with big crowds during the wet season, and you can explore the park with more peace of mind.

Whether it’s the wet or dry season, airboats are out on the water! Come enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.


October Activities in the Everglades

airboatWe’re in the middle of fall, and now is a great time to explore the Everglades! As the weather starts to cool down and the “in” season for Florida grows near, there are more activities to do in the park. Also, it is a lot more enjoyable to explore the Everglades, when it’s not brutally hot out!

As a private Everglades airboat company, we know a lot about the Everglades and we love to hear about all the fun activities people do within this beautiful ecosystem (besides jump on an airboat ride, that is!) For this article, we wanted to share with you some fun activities for you to do in the Everglades on a trip during October.

Anhinga Amble
Every day at 10:30 to 11:30 am., 11 a.m. to noon (in German)
Free with park entrance fee.
On the Anhinga Amble, visitors get to explore the Anhinga Trail and get the chance to see alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife. The walk starts at the Royal Palm benches. This trail is wheelchair accessible. The walk is 50 minutes long.

Glades Glimpse
Every day from 1:30 to 2 p.m.
Free with park entrance fee.
Sit back and relax and listen to a Park Ranger give a 20-minute talk ton the Everglades. Topics vary daily. The talk will be at the Royal Palm benches. The area is wheelchair accessible.

Shark Valley Tram Tours
Every day until October 24
9:30 to 11:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
Adults $25, Seniors (62+) $19, Children (3-12) $12.75
Jump on a tram to explore the Everglades and get a chance to see alligators, birds, and other wildlife. A Park Ranger or Park Naturalist will lead the tour. The tours are wheelchair accessible.
Reservations are recommended. Call 305-221-8455.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

These are just a few of the activities happening in the Park in October. Airboat tours happen daily! Our team at Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We have years of experience navigating through the wetland and can point out lots of plant and animal life out to you.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.