Some Basics on Airboat Safety

Everglades city Airboat oursAirboats are one of the most exciting, up-close-and-personal ways to get around the Everglades. They give visitors a chance to see the wetland’s vastness, along with its flora and fauna. Airboats are a safe way to glide through the waterways, but like anything there are risks. Airboat injuries and accidents have occurred, so it is important as a passenger you follow all safety precautions and rules.

Captain Mitch of Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has more than 30 years of experience exploring the Everglades on an airboat. Safety is a top priority for Captain Mitch.  He is familiar with the area and is trained and experienced in proper navigation techniques. Before going out on a tour, the airboat captain and staff perform a pre-operation check to see if there’s an issues or concerns with the boat. Many accidents and injuries can be avoided by keeping up with regular checks and maintenance.

What kind of things are looked at during these boat inspections? Here are just a few of many items an airboat captain or staff member in the state of Florida will check on:

  • Safety chains
  • Oil level, radiator fuel level
  • Navigation lights
  • Leaks
  • Safety gear
  • Gauges
  • Hull
  • Engine and engine mounts for anything loose
  • Rudders and propellers

While on an airboat, the captain will instruct passengers to not go near the propeller as a precaution. Any loose items and clothing can get caught in the propeller, which can bring harm to both the person and damage the boat. People will be instructed to secure all items they have with or on them.

On the airboat, there is ear and eye protection, a first-aid kit, a cell-phone, drinking water, and a fire extinguisher.

Since nature is unpredictable, airboat captains keep an eye on the weather. Florida is home to some powerful thunderstorms and hurricanes, so it’s extra important captains know the timing of these storms. If lightening, thunderstorms, or high wind is happening, a captain will dock the boat.

Captain Mitch has been touring through the Everglades for decades. Whether it’s a medical or weather emergency, Captain Mitch is trained to handle the situation and get everyone to safety as soon as possible. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours aims to bring people on fun and safe tours for decades. Click the airboat tour page too schedule a trip, or call 239-695-3377.

How Best to Avoid Pests on a Trip to the Everglades

everglades pestsA visit to the Everglades is a once in a lifetime experience. In the Everglades, you get to see a unique ecosystem that is unlike anything else in the United States. It is a diverse and abundant ecosystem that is an excellent place for the avid nature enthusiast and bird watcher alike.

There are tons of different ways to experience the Everglades, whether you take a foot tour of the national park, go on a bird watching tour, or go on an airboat ride around the pristine landscape to see it up close and personal. Whatever your particular interest, there is a way to enjoy it here.

One of the problems, however, is that in these varied and abundant settings there are, well, varied and abundant bugs, some of which can bite and sting, or simply just be a huge nuisance. Anyone visiting the Everglades for the first time should be prepared for the bugs they are likely to encounter and how to protect themselves from excessive irritation.

The most common nuisance is, of course, the mosquito. People who live in Florida have a whole host of different ways they deal with this ever-present pest, but almost all recommend going with a heavy duty bug spray when you visit the Everglades. Watch out for fire ants and cow ants as well. These are very abundant and can painfully bit your feet or legs.

Some claim that rubbing citrus peels on your feet and legs can help repel them, but it is recommended that you just wear appropriate feet coverings to protect yourself from bites.

Though they do not bite, one should also be forewarned about the Palmetto bug of Florida. If you have never been to Florida or never seen one of these, it can be an incredibly frightening experience. These are ugly and alarmingly large bugs that seem to have a knack for flying straight at any person they encounter. They are harmless, but also still rather unsettling. There is no way to really avoid them in Florida, but you can help reduce the likelihood you have multiple visitors of this variety by keeping all food properly sealed or stored in the refrigerator.

Visiting the Everglades is a unique and incredibly beautiful experience. There is tons of flora and fauna that you don’t find anywhere else and the views are stunning and unique. However, with all this beauty does come some cost. Insects are an ever-present reality for those who live in Florida, and if you are planning on visiting, it is advised that you come prepared to manage the pests that are likely to accompany you along your travels.

Want to jet around the Everglades in an airboat? Join Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours today! To book an airboat tour, click here or call 800-368-0065.

Burmese Pythons in the Everglades

burmese pythonOne of the biggest threats to a balanced ecosystem in the Everglades is the Burmese pythons. These snakes are an invasive species in the wetland. The python happens to love the Everglades, but this wetland cannot handle its presence. Pythons prey on almost anything in their path, and have been known to cause a large depletion in the rabbit, opossum, wading birds, racoons and other small populations population in the area. Its only predators are the American alligator and the Florida panther. However, these pythons can put up a fight and a recent video take by someone in the Everglades showed an alligator losing a fight with a python in water.

The state of Florida currently pays $8.10 per hour for people to hunt the Burmese pythons living in the Everglades. Up until June 1, there were 25 hunters killing pythons in the Everglades. These hunters use traps, dogs, public round ups, and radio-tracking implants to find and capture these snakes.  According to the South Florida Water Management District, there could anywhere from 10,000 to even more than 100,000 pythons slithering around the Everglades; they are not easy to find. The District is paying $50 for every snake caught, and an additional $25 if the snake is more than 4 feet in length. In April, the 50th Burmese was caught. The hunt began on March 25.

With each capture, the District and hunters hope the populations of other species from birds and small mammals to deer will begin to rise. Not only to these pythons’ lower animal populations by eating them, but they harm the population who eats them! These snakes’ bodies hold high levels of mercury, which can poison any animal or reptile that eats them. The pythons’ presence in the Everglades is changing the entire ecosystem.

Earlier this year, the 2016 Python Challenge occurred from January 16 to February 14; it was held by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida.  106 pythons were turned in.

Unfortunately, these pythons found their way into the Everglades after being released by many people who had them as pets; they are native to Asia. If you want to participate in next year’s challenge, click here. There are plenty of things you need to know and do before going python hunting.

If python hunting isn’t your thing, visit the Everglades in a much more relaxing way… on an airboat tour! This is your chance to see the Everglade’s wonderful wildlife that is still around, despite pythons and climate change issues. To book a tour, click the Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours page or call 239-695-3377.

Fire in the Everglades, Good or Bad?

We’re headed into the wet season, thankfully. Florida has experienced a very dry winter. It’s been so dry that fires were lighting up across the state burning down acres and acres of trees. In the beginning of May, there were 125 active fires across the state burning around 31,000 acres. Since the start of the new year, the Sunshine state has experienced 2,000 fires. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner said on May 8th, “Florida is in the middle of its worst wildfire season in years – with no end in sight.”

Although these fires are destructive to both wildlife and people throughout the state, there are, believe it or not, benefits to some fires occurring in the ecosystem of the Everglades. Below, we wanted to share with you some information from the National Park Service on the benefits of fire to the Everglades.

For the Pinelands area of the Everglades, fires that come through this area kill off the hammock species that would end up overpowering pines and many other plants. The hammock species create so much shadow covering 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. These hammocks are surrounded by wet depressions and are moist deep inside, which can help deter fires.

Fire always helps keep the grassy areas on prairies in check. When there is too much grass, it’s harder for the water to properly flow through the Everglades. With coastal prairies, fires maintain a diverse and balance ecosystem so mangroves and exotic plants don’t overwhelm other plants and areas. These fires are not near where people live, but they are still monitored.

Fire can be alarming and unhealthy for people and the environment, but they can also help keep a balanced ecosystem. Officials and firefighters work hard to fight and monitor all fires in the state, so the environment and buildings get the least amount of damage as possible.

If you’ve never been to the Everglades, a great way to experience this wetland is through an airboat tour. You’ll be able to see the ecosystem up-close-and-personal. Captain Mitch’ 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.

Bird Watching in the Everglades

Bird watching is a relaxing, slow-paced, way to enjoy nature and animals. There is something very exciting and rewarding about picking out that bird in the sky and being able to find out what it is from a birding book or website. It’s a bit like ecological detective work.

Bird watching is a popular past time for people across a wide range of ages and interests. Everglades National Park is a great place to bird watch in southern Florida, giving you the opportunity to see some 350 species of bird that call the Everglades home.

Birding takes a variety of forms and Everglades National Park boasts three main types of bird groups depending on which you prefer to view. These groups include: wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey.

Wading birds are the most prevalent in the Everglades, followed by land birds, and finally the elusive birds of prey.  There are a variety of rare and beautiful birds that can be seen in the Everglades, such as the roseate spoonbill, Green-backed Heron, Great Blue Heron, wood stork, white ibis, and more. These wading birds can be found in a variety of places within the mangroves and estuaries.

Land birds are the next most common category of birds found in the Everglades and these come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. There are tons of different types of sparrows, jays, buntings, wrens, cardinals, and more. These birds tend to be most heavily located in the wooded and piny areas of the park.

The most common birds of prey in the Everglades belong to the falcon family. A variety of different breeds of falcon, eagle, osprey, and even kites make their home in the Everglades. These birds are found throughout the varied sub-biomes of the Everglades, often seen soaring about the tree tops looking for food. Seeing these creatures in their natural landscape is a honor and an experience of a lifetime for a bird lover.

For the avid bird watcher, the Everglades is a rich and variety ecosystem that boasts a ton of different bird species. The most commonly seen types of birds include wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey. These birds make their home in the varied environments of the Everglades. Birding-oriented tours will take visitors to the locations where they are most likely to catch a peek at one of these amazing creatures. With patience and diligence, you can enjoy the varied aviary life the Everglades has on offer.

Come check out some birds on an airboat ride with Captain Mitch. Click here or call 800-368-0065 to book an airboat tour in the Everglades today.

Airboats Promote Eco-Tourism in the Everglades

airboats eco-friendly evergladesThe Everglades is a unique and dynamic landscape that is home to a whole host of different plant and animal species. It is a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that is as breathtaking as it is bursting with life. However, it should be noted that the ecosystem of the Everglades is a sensitive and precarious ecosystem and even minor changes or damage to the Everglades can have dramatic consequences on the heath of the overall ecosystem.

Tourism is a great way to promote the Everglades and to encourage conservation as well as a general love for the unique landscape. But the problem is, tourism can actually wreak a lot of havoc on a sensitive environment like the Everglades. This has led to the increase of what is called “eco-tourism.” This is environmentally-friendly tourism options that seek to minimize damage and negative impacts on the environments they seek to promote.

One of the best way to explore the Everglades is also the most eco-friendly: the airboat. Not only is this the most eco-friendly way to traverse the Everglades, it is a safe way as well. Alternative means of transportation such as a kayak or inflatable watercraft is not nearly as stable and secure as an airboat. These watercraft also do minimal damage to the surrounding environment.

Airboats ride one top of the water and the propeller is actually above the waterline. This means that aquatic plants and animals that call the waters of the Everglades home are not threatened by propellers tearing through the water. If the airboat comes into contact with a larger animal, it is most likely to slide right over it, leaving the animal and passengers of the boat unharmed. It is a great way to see the beautiful landscape without leaving permanent damage in your wake – something that is incredibly important in such a delicate ecosystem.

The Everglades is a unique landscape that is unmatched anywhere else in the world. Here you will see an ecosystem unlike any other and will come into contact with plants and animals that are found few other places. This is a dynamic and sensitive ecosystem whose health relies on a balance that humans can so easily throw off. This is why eco-tourism, such as with airboats, is highly recommended. It allows you to witness this pristine environment and leave it no worse off than you found it. Airboats are an excellent way to see a one-of-a-kind environment, without leaving a huge ecological footprint in your wake.

Jump on an eco-friendly airboat ride with Captain Mitch’s Airboat tours in the Everglades today. Click here or call 800-368-0065 to book a spot today.

The Everglades’ Threatened and Endangered Species

endangered species everglades airboat toursThe Everglades is an amazing and pristine ecosystem that is a unique biome that is home to a huge wealth of different flora and fauna. For nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike, the Everglades is a one-of-a-kind place that is unmatched. A lot of people, when planning a vacation to the Everglades, choose to experience Everglades National Park, which is a protected area of the Everglades where plants, animals, birds, and fish are protected and conserved.

One of the most interesting and humbling aspects of visiting the Park is that it (and the Everglades in general) are home to a number of threatened and endangered species of plant and animal. This means that in this environment, you have the opportunity to see truly endangered species that are at risk of extinction. These are species that need to be protected and saved because of their biological diversity and importance to the functioning of the overall ecosystem.

What a rare honor to have the chance to see creatures that may number in just the tens. Sadly, with each passing year, it seems that more plants and animals become threatened, endangered, or extinct, but with preservation efforts like those are many national parks, we can at least hope to save and protect small areas that these creatures can safely dwell within.

There are a number of different threatened and endangered species that you might encounter on a trip to the Everglades. What follows is a brief rundown of the same species that are included on the protected list.

Threatened or endangered species of animal that call the Everglades home include:

  • American Alligator
  • American Crocodile
  • Sea Turtles
  • Manatees
  • Florida Panther
  • Various Bird Species

The park is also home to a variety of threatened and endangered plants that include:

  • Buccaneer Palm
  • Florida Thatch Palm
  • Tree Cactus
  • Manchineel
  • King’s Holly
  • Silver Thatch Palm
  • Bitter Thatch Palm
  • Lignum-Vitae

The protection of these plants and animals is vital and also our responsibility. Man is the reason that these habitats have been continually encroached upon and altered beyond repair. Since the degradation is our doing, we have the moral responsibility to save and protect that which remains. The Everglades National Park is home to a number of threatened and endangered plants and animals that can be seen nowhere else. Visiting the park gives you the opportunity to experience the once-in-a-lifetime honor of witnessing something rare and majestic.

To experience the wonders of this park first hand, jump on an airboat tour with Captain Mitch. To learn more, click the Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours page. Click here to book a airboat ride or call 800-368-0065 to reserve a spot today.

The Everglades is the Ultimate Protector

evergladesWhy is the Everglades such an important asset to the world? Why should we spend so much money restoring it? Well, there’s many reasons, but for this article, we wanted to focus on one. The Everglades is a wetland, which means it’s a natural defense or buffer against disasters. Wetlands can be used to minimize damage from disasters such as flooding, tropical cyclones, hurricanes, and tsunamis, and droughts.

Back in 2012, it was estimated that wetlands helped avoid an additional $625 million in damages because they acted like a sponge to reduce flooding. Wetland truly can make a difference in the amount of damage from a natural disaster. In the city of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka damage from the 2004 tsunami reached out 50 meters inland; this city was near offshore coral reefs. In a nearby city of Peraliya, the damage reached inland by 1.5 kilometers, because the coral reefs around this area were damaged due to coral mining.

Throughout the year, if there is a dry season, wetlands release stored water, which reducing the chances of a drought or water shortage. They also can make a difference after a disaster occurs. Wetlands can help restore proper water and nutrients to the environment after a storm hits. In 1999, a cyclone hit a town in eastern India; it was found that rice paddies protected by mangroves recovered and produced far more quickly than those that were not protected.

By protecting, restoring and saving the Everglades, we are not only protecting the wildlife and plant life that live within it, but we are also protecting nearby farms and communities from taking the brunt of any natural disaster or hazard. The healthier the Everglades is, the better surrounding communities can bounce back from a disaster.

Want to explore this mystical wetland for yourself? You can on an airboat tour. Fly through the grass and swamps while getting to see some beautiful views and animal life. To book a tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airtboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click here.


Earth Day is Important for the Everglades

Each year, Earth day is celebrated on April 22. Back in 1970, 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day celebration. Fast forward 47 years, and we now have the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Florida is home to the Everglades, many species of animals, fish and birds, and thousands of plant life, so Earth Day and these environmental laws have special meaning to this state.

Two years ago, President Obama visited the Everglades on Earth Day to speak on climate change. South Florida, including the Everglades, is extremely vulnerable to climate change. South Florida has a high population, and a low, flat landscape; it’s beaches are eroding and flooding occurs often during high tides. As the sea level continues to rise, this not only compromises the land, but the drinking water available to South Florida’s residents, as well. With higher sea levels, the drinker water will become saltier for millions of people.  This is because the Everglades refills and protects the basin Biscayne Aquifer that supplies drinking water to one-third of Florida. Obama expressed during his Earth Day speech that we cannot deny the effects of climate change, and its biggest impacts will be happening in South Florida.

Every year, the Everglades does something for such an important day for the wetland. Check out for news and updates on events and happenings occurring.

Also each year, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center hosts an Earth Day celebration with activities and events for all ages. More than 1,200 people attend this celebration. Some activites include: animal programs, boat tours, food, music, educational programs and lectures. For a full list of this year’s activities, click here.

Through environmental awareness, the Everglades has been slowly going through restorations. The damage currently done can show us all how important it is to fix what we’ve done to hurt the environment before it’s too late.

Explore one of the Earth’s greatest treasures on an airboat tour. Captain Mitch’s Airboat tours brings visitors across thousands of acres of private swampland. Captain Mitch and his familh have been in the airboat tour business for more than 60 years. On a tour, visitors will get a chance to see alligators, birds, fish, snakes,  and more. Book an airboat tour with Captain Mitch today. Click here or call 800-368-0065 to schedule a trip. Visit here for a $3 off per person coupon.

Everglades Bird Spotlight: Laughing Gull

laughing gullDo you know what the most common gull in the Everglades is? The laughing gull! These gulls are medium in size with long wings and legs. They are a coastal warm-weather species, which is why they can be found hanging around the Everglades year round. Below, we wanted to share some fun facts about this bird.

  • They can even be found inland around plowed fields, rivers, garbage dumps, and parking lots.
  • As their name reveals, this species of gull is very vocal; their call is loud with a series of “laughing” notes that last at least three seconds long. When threatened, laughing gulls make a short alarm call, but this can get more intense and last a long time if they are defending a nest.
  • When in the Everglades, on the shoreline or a beach, you can identify this gull by its black hood and red bills. Their back and wings are also a bit darker than other similar-sized gulls. They stand in groups.
  • Laughing gulls eat a variety of different species including crustaceans, worms, insects, snails, crabs, fish, squid, berries, offal, and human food found on the beaches.
  • When mating, both the male and female laughing gull build the nest. Often, the male will start to build the nest in hope of attracting a female.
  • Their nests can be found on sand, rocks, or hidden in plants or dead plants.
  • They remove the egg shells from the nest after each bird hatches; the shells can potentially get lodged on top of another egg and cause the bird not to hatch.
  • In the late 19th century, this bird was overhunted for its eggs and plumes (hate trade). But since 1966, the population has increased.

Want to see and hear these birds? Take a trip on an airboat ride that can bring you all around where these birds live. Call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours today to have an experience of a lifetime. Click here or call 800-368-0065 to schedule your tour through an American gem.