The Everglades is More than Just a Park

south florida caribbean networkThe Everglades is a National Park, but it’s also a national and international treasure. It is protected by the United states, and internationally, it is seen as a highly-important piece of land. Besides being a National Park, the Everglades is a biosphere reserve, a world heritage site and a wetland of international importance. As you can see, the Everglades is a vital part of the world.

The Everglades has unique flora and fauna within it spread across 1.5 million acres. It is a sanctuary for endangered species. Currently, it helps protect about 15 federally-threatened and endangered species like Florida panthers, sea turtles, West Indian manatees, wood storks, crocodiles and more.

Residing in the Everglades is also one of the vastest pine rockland habitats in the world. There are also over 1,000 species of plants, and 350 species of birds inside this Park. The Everglades is the single largest area of land east of the Mississippi River where plants and animals are granted immunity from human intervention.

How is the Everglades a biosphere reserve, a world heritage site and a wetland of international importance? It is due to its unique collection of plants and wildlife.

The Everglades is one of 563 worldwide biosphere reserves. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), biosphere reserves essentially serve as “living laboratories,” which assist in understanding biodiversity. Scientific researchers use biosphere reserves to learn not only about the land but also how humans affect it. UNESCO designated the Everglades as an International Biosphere Reserve under the Man and the Biosphere project in 1976.

World heritage sites, deemed by UNESCO, are “recognized as being of outstanding international importance and therefore as deserving special protection.” Sites are natural or man-made, and there are currently 1,031 world heritage properties spread across the globe. The Everglades joined the World Heritage List in 1979 for its subtropical biodiversity.

Also known as a Ramsar Site, Wetlands of International Importance have protection under a multi-country treaty to preserve the resources found in each wilderness. There are presently 1,929 wetland sites on the Ramsar List. In 1987, the Ramsar Convention acknowledged the Everglades as a Wetland of International Importance.

Globally, the Everglades are being protected. No one wants to see this magical place disappear.

An airboat tour is a great way to explore the Everglades and see plant and wildlife not found anywhere else in the world.

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours will give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other on the water. To book an airboat ride, call  800-368-0065  or visit our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

All About the Everglades Mangroves

mangrove forestsThe Everglades is known for a lot of things like alligators and airboats. It’s also known for its mangrove forests. They’re out-of-this-world enchanting. The state of Florida has around 469,000 acres of mangrove forests.

There are about 50 species of mangroves. Three mangroves species can be found in Florida. The Everglades is home to largest mangrove forest in North America. Mangroves grow and thrive in tropical and subtropical climates. These trees produce seeds that drop and get carried away by water or winds, and the seeds can pretty much grow wherever they land.

Florida is home to three species of mangroves: the red mangrove, the black mangrove, and the white mangrove.

The most well-known, and easily seen in the Everglades, is the red mangrove. It’s a salt-tolerant tree that grows in areas with low-oxygen soil. They can take freshwater from the saltwater to survive. These mangroves have prop roots that make them look like they’re standing on the water. With these roots, the forests can handle rising tides in-and-out of the Everglades. The roots are reddish in color.

The black mangrove sits at a higher elevation than the red mangrove. This mangrove has finger-like projections that protrude from the soil around the trunk of the tree.

The white mangrove can be found at the highest elevations of these three species. This mangrove’s roots do not show; it has light, yellow-green leaves.

The Florida coastline and the Everglades benefit from mangroves. They stabilize the coastline and higher lands by reducing erosion with their roots. The mangroves block winds, waves, floods, tides, and storm surges from damaging the land. The bigger, wider, and thicker a mangrove forest, the more protection to the environment it can provide. These mangroves can also filter water and keep water quality high.

The mangroves also provide a habitat for a variety of birds and marine life. Many fish and animals use the forests as protection, shelter, or a place to find food.

According to American Forests, the oldest national conservation organization in the country, almost half of the world’s old-growth mangrove forest have disappeared in the past 50 years. Humans are a major cause to the loss of the mangrove forests due to industrial shrimp farming and coastal development.

In Florida, state and city laws have been established to protect these forests, which are a key role in Florida’s ecosystem.

Ride Through the Mangroves

Do you want to see these mangroves up close? There’s plenty of them to see in the Everglades! They are breathtaking!

An airboat ride can give you a look at these forests, as well as lots of other plants and animals. Book an airboat tour by calling 800-368-0065  or visiting our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

How to Stay Safe in the Everglades

safe in evergladesWhether we’re on vacation, a trip, or just going out for a walk, safety should always be a priority. When entering the Everglades, you are entering a beautiful National Park filled with wildlife and plant life. Being outdoors, you risk dealing with inclement weather, bugs, and other unpredictable things.

If you’re planning to visit the Everglades, it’s best to familiarize yourself with some of the park’s safety precautions and rules, so you can get the most out of your visit. Whether you’re taking an airboat tour, walking a trail, or going camping, you should keep safety in mind while spending time in this Park.

Below, we’ve shared some of the Everglades National Park’s safety precautions, tips, and rules that you need to keep in mind when visiting.

  1. Pay attention to the weather. It can get very hot and humid in the Everglades, especially during the summer months. Prepare appropriately for the weather. Wear sunscreen, bring water, and wear proper clothing.
  2. Children should always be supervised. The trails are surrounded by wilderness, so there are animals roaming freely all in the grasses and vegetation. For everyone’s safety, make sure children stick to the trail with you.
  3. Pets are not allowed on the trails.
  4. Do not feed wildlife. It is illegal. Over time, animals will become aggressive if they’re being fed by humans in their wild habitat. The animals know how to find their own food.
  5. Be aware of vultures. Vultures live in the area and are federally protected. They can be mean, and have been known to damage the windshields, sun roofs, and windshield wipers of cars and other vehicles. If you see a a group of vultures, avoid parking near it. Park in full sun, put a car cover over the car, cover any exposed runner with a towel or wet sheet, use loud noises to spook the vultures off the car or vehicle, and notify a ranger if a vulture is on your car and it won’t leave.
  6. Don’t bother, touch, or interact with any wildlife. If you harm, touch, or get in the way of the animals or birds, you can get in big trouble; it is illegal to bother the animals in any way. The ecosystem is fragile, and we don’t want to disrupt animals in their homes.
  7. Do not leave a fire unattended. You can build a fire in a designated area.
  8. Do not tie anything or attach anything to trees or plants.
  9. Do not leave garbage out or behind. Don’t litter.
  10. Apply insect repellant before walking on any of the trails; the park also sells repellant at all stores in the Park. It’s best to stick to walking on paved areas if you want to stay away from bugs as much as possible.
  11. Always tell someone where you’re going if you plan to walk alone in an area.
  12. Do not pick flowers or plants to bring home.

It’s important that you keep these safety tips in mind so you can have an enjoyable care-free trip to the National Park. An airboat tour is a safe way to explore the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has many years of experience navigating through the wetland. Book an airboat tour by calling 800-368-0065  or visiting our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

 

Inventory and Monitoring Programs in the Everglades

programs in the evergladesThe Everglades is more than just a Park; it is filled with endless activities and programs for visitors to partake in to learn more, experience more, and help more. Also, there are programs in the Park that are led by researchers, scientists, and experts to find out more about the Park, help the Park thrive, and solve problems within the Park.

For this article, we wanted to share with you a few inventory and monitoring programs in the Park:

Aquatics Program – The South Florida Natural Resources Center monitors freshwater fish and invertebrates in the Park. The Shark River Slough is sampled once a year and the Rocky Glades area is sampled monthly. This program tracks seasonal and long-term changes in freshwater fish and invertebrate populations due to weather and water changes.

Wildlife Monitoring Program – This program has gathered critical information to the management of wading birds, eagles, ospreys, sea turtles, alligators, crocodiles, white-tailed deer, Florida panthers, and the Cape Sable seaside sparrow. This program monitors the population of many endangered species.

Hydrolic Monitoring Program – The park protects a large portion of freshwater marsh in the Everglades. In 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was started and it was created to improve the future quality of the natural and human systems in south Florida including restoring, preserving and protecting the south Florida ecosystem. The restoration of these systems will be considered a success once the ecosystem begins to act like a wild system than as a set of managed and disconnected wetlands. Park hydrologists monitors freshwater, brackish water, and saltwater conditions through monitoring sites and stations. They also monitor and evaluate biological, chemical, and environmental factors affecting water quality. Hydrologists began monitoring precipitation in the park n 1949 and started to install stations to monitor water in 1952.

Come on down and visit this beautiful Park. Maybe once you’re down here, you’ll want to volunteer and help the Park become restored once again!

Looking for a fun way to experience the Everglades? Book a trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on an airboat, by calling 800-368-0065  or visiting our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

Everglades is Home to the Florida Black Bear

florida black bearThe Florida Black Bear calls the Everglades its home. It lives all over Florida and is the state’s largest land mammal. They can weigh anywhere from 125 to 400 pounds.

The Everglades is a great environment for these black bears, because there aren’t too many humans around. These bears love a reclusive life. This park gives the bears to live in a place freely.

Florida black bears are unique because they adapted to thrive in a subtropical habitat, something no other black bear subspecies has accomplished. In South Florida, they live in habitats like sand-pine scrub, hardwood forests, pine rocklands, forested sloughs and oak scrub.

The Everglades is a perfect home for this bear, because it’s full of plant life, which accounts for nearly 80 percent of a black bear’s diet. These bears like to munch on the sabal palmetto, a native tree in the Everglades.

Even with protected wildernesses like the Everglades, Ocala National Forest and Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida black bears experience habitat reduction. Because of humans, Florida black bears lose 20 acres of habitat an hour due to roads, buildings, and homes. Humans also accidently kill black bears on the road, which is currently the primary cause of death of a black bear in Florida. Black bears are active at night and often cross roads, which is why they get hit.

Florida has never seen a predatory black bear attack on humans, but people have been hurt by black bears before, especially if the bear feels like it needs to defend itself or its cubs.

If you encounter a black bear in the Everglades, back away slowly, and never turn your back to a bear. Hold your hands up. Do not make eye contact with the bear. Do not run. Do not climb a tree. Make noise. Blow a whistle or bang things together to scare the bear. Speak calmly to the bear as it will recognize your calm tone. Do not feed a black bear.

Seeing a bear is pretty cool, but it’s cooler (and safer) when you’re not up-close-and-personal like on an airboat. An airboat ride can give you a glimpse of many animals, birds, and plants in the Park. Book an airboat tour by calling 800-368-0065  or visiting our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

Move Over Python: Poisonous Snakes in the Everglades

poisonous snakesBurmese pythons get a lot of attention for living in the Everglades, even though they are an invasive species. However, there are 23 snake species in the Everglades and four are venomous. Snakes, although terrifying to many, help keep the ecosystem in balance. These snakes control the number of other snakes, invertebrates and rodents in the Park. Bird and alligators also prey on snakes.

For this article, we wanted to detail the four venomous snakes that live in the Everglades, which include the Eastern coral snake, the Florida cottonmouth, the dusky pigmy rattlesnake, and the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.

Eastern Coral Snake – This snake has red, yellow, and black bands running down its body. It can usually be found in a wooded habitat and it is very elusive in nature, since it spends a lot of time under ground or beneath foliage. Coral snakes are not confrontational; they account for less than one percent of all bites that occur in North America each year; however, their bite is the most venomous of all the snakes on the continent. This snake’s bite isn’t overly painful, but can cause death within just a few hours.

Florida Cottonmouth – This snake is known as the “water moccasin.” It is a type of pit viper and it is the only semiaquatic viper species in the world. This snake can be found around shallow waters such as streams and marshes. These snakes can really swim. They are black, brown, tan or olive in color; the Florida cottonmouth also has a very thick body and can be up to six feet long. Its bite is painful and can lead to death.

Dusky Pigmy Rattlesnake—The dusky pigmy rattlesnake is a small snake between two to three feet. It can be found in both wet and dry areas. It is gray with black/brown dorsal spots across its back with white flecks on the stomach. This snake is aggressive and can be quick to bite with no warning. It has small fangs, so it only releases a small amount of venom with a bite. Its bite is rarely fatal, but can be more dangerous to a child or pet.

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake – This snake is the biggest of the venomous snakes in both mass and length; it can grow up to eight feet.  This snake is also a great swimmer. It can be found by water or understand. The diamondback rattlesnake has dark diamonds across its body, each separated by a whiteish color. It is extremely venomous, but it is not aggressive. They rattling their tails to warn anyone who may be a

These poisonous snakes can look similar to many non-venomous snakes. So, how can you tell the difference between a venomous snake and a non-venomous snake?

  1. Most snakes with a triangular head are venomous.
  2. Snakes with lengthwise stripes are non-venomous.

Never approach or touch a snake if you’re unsure what kind of snake you are approaching. Even if you know your snakes, it’s better to leave wildlife alone. If you want snakes to stay away from you, it’s a good idea to make a lot of noise while walking, so the snakes are aware you’re around. Keep your hands out of potential snake hiding spots (logs, brush, leaves, rock piles), as well. Stick to the trails, because you’re less likely to run into a snake on a cleared path.


An airboat tour is a great way to stay safe in the Everglades without running the risk of encountering a snake. You may even get to see one slither by on land or water.

To check out the beautiful ecosystem that the snakes contribute to, Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours will give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. To book an airboat ride, call  800-368-0065  or visit our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

 

Everglades Artist in Residence Program

everglades artistBesides alligators and birds, there is art in the park! The Artist in Residence in Everglades (AIRIE) offers artists, writers, and composers the opportunity to live and work in the Park for a period of up to one month.

The works completed in this program will contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of Everglades National Park. This program is meant for serious professionals who want to work alone in the wilderness. It’s a good program for those who care about and want to contribute to the environment. The park takes in 12 residents each year.

Artists are provided a furnished apartment during the residency (about four weeks). It is in the Royal Palm area, near the Ernest Coe Visitor Center. Residents need to bring personal belongings, foods, and supplies. Artwork includes painting, video arts, sculpture, photography, mixed media, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Student work is not eligible.

Each artist is asked to donate one piece of art that reflects their residency for the park’s collection. Also, each artist must volunteer a few hours during their residency to interact with park visitors and staff. This volunteer work can include “art walks,” slide lectures, exhibitions, and workshops.

The resident is chosen by a panel of experts and professional artists, curators, and educators, along with park personnel.

In the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center in the Everglades, you can have the chance to see AIRIE NEST, which is an interdisciplinary art gallery put on display by AIRIE, Inc (Artists in Residence in Everglades).

This exhibit features visual art, performing art, art-science driven collaboration, artwork from the AIRIE permanent collection, as well as educational workshops. The mission of this exhibit is to “educate, enhance and enrich the visitor’s understanding and experience of Everglades National Park through quality Everglades’ specific exhibits; foster a unique opportunity for the future generations of Park stewards to learn about the Everglades.”
AIRIE Nest Gallery is located at Everglades National Park’s Coe Visitor Center, 40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL. The gallery is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, free of charge.

To see what artwork is up for display, visit the AIRIE website.

Before or after visiting this wonderful exhibit, or while you’re an artist in residence, explore the Everglades by airboat on a ride with Captain Mitch. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours give you a glimpse of the Everglades like no other. To book an airboat ride, call  800-368-0065  or visit our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

2018 Showed Everglades Restoration Helped Wading Birds

roseate spoonbillResearchers, scientists, government officials, park staff, and civilians have been trying to restore the Everglades in many different ways. One way is by helping out native species. We want native species to thrive in the Everglades, not disappear.

 

Many scientists have been trying to restore native bird populations. And in the last few months, state environmental officials announced that in 2018 there was in increase in wading bird nests that haven’t been seen since the 1940s.

 

According to South Florida Water Management District’s 2019 wading bird report, prepared along with Audubon Florida, the Everglades saw about 138,834 nests of white ibises, wood storks, roseate spoonbills, and other long-legged bird species in 2018. The highest number before that was 51,270 nests in 2009. There was even a “supercolony” in western Broward County where 59,120 nests were found, which has not been seen since the 1930s.

 

As you can tell by the numbers, this is great news and a promising outlook for native bird species in the Everglades.

 

How did this number increase so much? Well, one reason is the increase in fish populations due to the year’s rainfall patterns. The Broward supercolony birds likely increased due to the restoration of more water being moved around a teardrop-shaped island. The deep water kept away predators like racoons, so it was easier to nest.

 

2019 likely won’t see as big of a number as 2018, due to weather, but 2018’s season shows that further restoration on waterflow improvement will likely be successful for wading birds.  A bird biologist from the water management district believes if they get the water right at the right time, species can be recovered quickly.

 

Birds are a sight to see in the Everglades, and you can catch a glimpse of them in their habitat on an airboat tour.

 

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is a trip where you can see wildlife and a side of the Everglades like nowhere else.

To book a trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

Safety Tips for a Trip to the Everglades

safety tipsThe Everglades is a great place to take the whole family. There’s a lot of wonderful things to see and areas to explore, along with activities like airboat tours, biking, canoeing, shuttles, walking tour, and much more. Being an outdoor Park filled with wildlife, visitors must take precaution as anything can happen in terms of weather, flooding, restrictions, bugginess, etc.

When visiting the Park, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the park’s safety rules, so you can get the most out of your visit. Safety is critical no matter what you choose to do in the park.

We’ve listed some of the Everglades National Park’s safety precautions, tips, and rules below. These safety rules are in play no matter the time of year you plan to visit the area.

  1. Pay attention to the weather. It can get very hot and humid in the Everglades during the summer. Dress appropriately, wear sunscreen, bring water, and bug spray.
  2. Children must be supervised. There are animals roaming freely all in the grasses and vegetation alongside the trails. For your child’s safety and yours, make sure everyone sticks to the trails.
  3. Pets are not allowed on the trails.
  4. Feeding wildlife is not allowed and is illegal. Animals can become aggressive if they’re being fed by humans in their wild habitat.
  5. Be aware of vultures. Vultures are federally protected. They have been known to damage the windshields, sunroofs, and windshield wipers of cars and other vehicles. The Park suggests you avoid parking near groups of vultures, park in full sun, put a car cover over the car, use loud noises to spook the vultures off the car or vehicle, and notify a park ranger if one is on your car and won’t leave.
  6. Leave the wildlife alone. If you harm, touch, or bother the animals or birds, you can get in trouble; it is illegal to interfere with the animals in any way.
  7. Do not leave a fire unattended.
  8. Do not tie or attach anything to trees.
  9. Do not leave garbage out or behind – this can attract wildlife.
  10. The Park suggests applying insect repellant before walking on any of the trails; the park also sells repellant at all stores in the Park. It’s best to stick to walking on paved areas if you want to stay away from bugs as much as possible.

Keep these 10 tips and safety rules in mind while visiting the Everglades. The trip will be much more enjoyable if you prepare for the trip properly, and don’t bother the animals of environment in any way.

Riding on an airboat is a safe and fun way to explore the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been navigating through the wetland for decades.

To book a trip for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).

 

 

Parts of an Airboat

airboat tourAn airboat is an iconic site in the Everglades – being on one is an experience you’ll never forget. Airboats can glide along in shallow, marshy waters due to their flat-bottom design and their above-water propeller; they are also known as fan boats.

Years ago, airboats were the primary mode of transportation in the Everglades, but now they are used for recreational purposes.

In 1942, Barrel Head House built one of the first commercial airboats. After that, Everglades visitors enjoyed viewing the Park on these boats where they could see alligators, plants, birds, and other wildlife. Airboats are still one of the most popular tourist attractions in south Florida and the Everglades.

Below, we have detailed some parts that make up an airboat.

  • Engine: Airboats have an aircraft or automotive V8 engine ranging from 500 to 600+ horsepower.
  • Propeller: Airboats have an aircraft propeller operates out-of-water to power the airboat.
  • Propeller cage: This sits inside a metal cage, which protects the boat and its inhabitants from injury from the propeller’s blades.
  • Rudder panels: Steering an airboat relies heavily on rudder panels, which help direct air.
  • Rudder stick: The rudder stick is located on the airboat driver’s left side; the rudder stick directs the boat through the swamp.
  • Accelerator: The airboat captain uses the accelerator to pick up speed during airboat rides.

Explore the Everglades on a Private Airboat Tour

Captain Mitch’s Private Everglades airboat tours is based in Everglades City and is one of the oldest airboat tours in the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours has been running safe, fun and family-friendly excursions throughout Everglades’ wilderness for decades.

To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or visit the Everglades Airboat Tours  page.