Current Everglades and Airboat Status, Safety, and Access During Pandemic

airboat tourAt this time the Everglades and Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours are both opened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Everglades is open with modifications in place for COVID-19. The access to the park is continuing to increase in a phased approach, but all areas are open. Some concession-operated tours and services have modifications in place.

The first 10 miles of the Main Park Road at the Homestead entrance is under construction while the road is repaved. There will be minimal delays and one-lane closures.
If you plan to be on the water, use extreme caution has many navigation aids are still missing or damaged and will be completed in the upcoming months.
During the pandemic, digital passes are preferred to protect visitors and employees and minimize the spread of COVID-19.

As for us here at Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours, we will be returning to our roots and offering private tours as a result of COVID-19. We are now offering our usual standard tours, as well. 

We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 and we want you to know we are committed to helping stop the spread of this virus. We are a family owned business, for your safety and the safety of our employees we are diligently sanitizing our facility and equipment multiple times per day.  

We will offer private group tours at $50 per person, plus tax (four-person minimum). Reservations are suggested and coupons are NOT valid on private tour. 

Going on a private airboat tour is a great way to get outside while social distancing and having fun.  It’s aexperience that you’ll never forget 

Here are some great tips before coming to the Everglades or for a ride on an airboat tour?

  • The Everglades’ weather can be erratic and unpredictable. It can be extremely hot and humid. It also could be stormy. It is always advised you pay attention to the forecast before visiting.
  • Always bring water.
  • Bring insect repellent, especially in the summer.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Wear the appropriate clothing for whatever Everglades activity you choose to do.
  • Keep an eye on your children.
  • Pets are not allowed on most trails.
  • Keep your pets on a leash in parking lots.
  • Do not feed or touch the wildlife.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants if you want to better avoid mosquito bites.
  • Stay at least 15 feet away from an alligator or crocodile.
  • Try not to touch plants, especially if you don’t know the species – it could be poisonous.

Explore the Everglades by Private Airboat Tour

The Everglades is a fun place to be, but remember to always be prepared and do things to stay safe.

Ready to explores the Everglades?  If you want to truly experience the Everglades, we suggest an airboat tour. You’ll get to see so much of Everglades on this vessel. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget.

To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our  Everglades Private Airboat Tours page.

Major Step Forward for Everglades Restoration

everglades restorationYesterday, October 21, a huge milestone occurred for Everglades restoration. Work has begun! The work will help water move better in the Everglades.

This project, The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, (CERP) is aiming to remove 240 miles of canals and levels to restore the sheetflow of water to how it was historically. This restoration is about restoring the livelihood of the entire ecosystem that will benefit the plant life, wild life, and human population.

This project has been in the works for nearly 9 years. The building stage begun yesterday. Water from Lake Okeechobee will be sent south instead of only east and wet.

This plan will include a system of tunnels where water will flow south into the Everglades, under Tamiami Trail, and into Florida Bay with the goal to remove canals and levees in the Everglades and help coastal communities.

This plan will be a huge undertaking and it set to be completed in 2030.

Here are five components of Everglades Restoration that were put together in 2007 by the Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress.

  1. Creating enough water storage capacity and appropriate volumes of water that make healthy estuaries and bring the return of sheet flow.
  2. Bringing the water back to its natural flow patterns, volume, depth, velocity, direction, etc.
  3. Creating barriers so that higher water levels can be maintained in the Everglades.
  4. Creating methods for securing water quality conditions.
  5. Retaining, improving, and expanding habitats by protecting lands.

The plan is also that all Everglades restoration plans will be prepared for all climate changes in the future, as well.

See the Everglades in an Airboat

It’s important to restore the Everglades. If not, the area will flood, erode, and disappear. Animals and plant species will also disappear, as well, if we do not take care of this area.

At Captain Mitch’s Private Airboat Tours, we respect the Everglades and want it to be a part of our lives forever and for future generations.

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

What are the Parts of an Airboat?

Everglades airboat ride

Airboats aren’t like other boats. They are able to glide through shallow waters and they work particularly well in marshy areas like the Florida Everglades and Louisiana Bayous. Why? Well, they have a  flat-bottom design combined with an above-water aircraft propeller.

Originally, airboats served as a primary mode of transportation throughout the Everglades, and now they’re commonly used for recreational activities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.

In 1942, Barrel Head House built one of the first commercial airboats. Since then, Everglades visitors enjoyed skimming above the water’s surface. Tourists and locals enjoy airboat tours for the chance to sight alligators, birds, turtles and other popular Everglades wildlife.

Over the years, airboat rides and tours quickly became a staple in Everglades ecotourism, and to this day they are of the most popular attractions in South Florida.

Parts of an Airboat

An airboat is intricate. Below, we have listed some parts of an airboat.

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

Book an Airboat Tour in the Everglades

Did you know Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours in Everglades City, is the oldest airboat tour provider in the Everglades? For generations, Captain Mitch and company have delivered safe, fun and family-friendly excursions throughout South Florida wilderness.

To schedule your private Everglades ride, contact Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page. 

Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

Creepy Stories in the Everglades

evergladesOctober is a “spirited” month filled with scary costumes, TV specials, ghost tours, haunted houses, and lots of frights. Being such a spooky season,  we wanted to share some creepy stories that have come out of the Everglades region.

–The Ghost Ship of the Everglades has been haunting Florida’s south coast since the days of pirating marauders. The ship’s phantom crew is cursed to sail the seas for all eternity, after giving chase to a merchant ship and getting lost in the twisting channels of the Everglades’ swamplands. The story has been passed down for hundreds of years. Do you know anyone who has seen this ship?

–The story of Edgar Watson. No one knew where Edgar Watson came from, but he built a cabin in the Everglades over 100 years ago and largely kept to himself. One day, a fisherman found the gutted body of a woman floating in the Chatham River. Eventually, authorities found dozens of human bodies buried on Edgar Watson’s farm, and a former farmhand reported seeing him take lives ritualistically. The property is thought to be haunted to this day.

— The Calusa. The Calusa are an ancient tribe of Native Americans that resisted incursion by the Spanish and fatally injured explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. It is not clear what happened to the Calusa, The Calusa practiced human sacrifice and believed their leaders had supernatural powers. The mass remains of their civilization were found hundreds of years later in the form of human skulls.

–Missing planes. Over the years, numerous planes have disappeared in the Everglades over the years, never to be seen again. In December 1972, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 was headed to Miami from New York, but due to an electronic failure and pilot error, it crashed in the Everglade. Ninety six of 163 people onboard were killed Paranormal events were soon experienced on other Eastern Air Lines planes that used parts cannibalized from the wreckage of Flight 401. The odd occurrences were documented in the 1976 book “The Ghost of Flight 401,” and the airline eventually replaced all the parts salvaged from the doomed flight.In May 1996, a fire broke out on ValuJet Flight 592 shortly after takeoff from Miami. The plane plunged into the alligator-infested water and very little of it was ever found; all 105 passengers were killed. Some think it to be one of the most baffling airplane mysteries in modern aviation history.

Spooked out? For more fascinating, educational and fun stories about the Everglades, jump on an airboat tour with us!

No one knows the Everglades like Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours in Everglades City, Florida. To book an airboat tour, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Private Airboat Tours page. We are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click our airboat ride rates to view our prices.

Ecosystems in the Everglades: Part 4

ecosystemsIn a blog post last week, we discussed two different ecosystems in the Everglades: freshwater sloughs and freshwater mark prairies. Those are just two of many of the ecosystems within the Everglades.  

Each ecosystem looks and acts different and helps the circle of life. On an airboat tour with Captain Mitch, you will pass by many of the Everglades’ ecosystems. For this blog post, we wanted to share some information with you on two more ecosystems in the Everglades.  

CypressCypress trees are found in the Everglades in one of three distinct formations. They are a deciduous conifer that can survive in standing water. It’s common to find a cluster of cypress trees in the shape of a dome. Cypress strands occur where cyrpress trees grow in a long, linear shape parallel with the flow of water. Stunted cypress trees (dwarf cypress) grow where there is less than favorable growing conditions. 

Marine and estuarine In the Everglades, the largest body of water is Florida Bay, which has more than 800 square miles of marine bottom covered by submerged vegetation. Seagrass and algae provide food and shelter to many marine organisms which sustains the food chain. There is also a lot of corals and sponges, fish, crustaceans and mollusks that call the waters of the Everglades home.  

As you can see, there’s lots of moving parts that make these ecosystems thrive, so it’s important to protect and care for all these different ecosystems as they all play a critical role in the lifecycles of endless plant, animal, and insect species.  

Want to see a few different ecosystems up close? 

Come on down and enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades on an airboat tour that leaves from Everglades City. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page. 

 

Ecosystems in the Everglades: Part 3 

ecosystemsIn a blog post last month, we discussed two different ecosystems in the Everglades: pinelands and hardwood hammock. Those are just two of many of the ecosystems within the Everglades.  

Each ecosystem looks and acts different and helps the circle of life. On an airboat tour with Captain Mitch, you will pass by many of the Everglades’ ecosystems. For this blog post, we wanted to share some information with you on two more ecosystems in the Everglades.  

Freshwater sloughA freshwater slough is a low-lying area of land that channels water through the Everglades. They are marshy rivers. They are deep and maintain flooded throughout the year. They move about 100 feet per day. The Everglades has two sloughs: The Shark River Slough known as the “River of Grass” which is the larger one, and the smaller and narrower Tayor Slough. Both sloughs discharge into Florida Bay. There are other sloughs that flow through to western Florida Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands.  

Freshwater marl prairieFreshwater marl prairies are short-hydroperiod marshes and have a diverse low-growing vegetation in them. The marl allows slow seepage of the water but not rapid drainage. They look like freshwater sloughs, but the water is not as deep. There are large areas of them bordering the deeper sloughs of the Everglades. These marl prairies are created by thin, calcitic soil that has accumulated over limestone bedrock 

As you can see, there’s lots of moving parts that make these ecosystems thrive, so it’s important to protect and care for all these different ecosystems as they all play a critical role in the lifecycles of endless plant, animal, and insect species.  

Next week, we will discuss about the following ecosystems:  cypress and marine and estuarine.  

Want to see a few different ecosystems up close? 

Come on down and enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades on an airboat tour that leaves from Everglades City. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page. 

 

 

 

 

 

Burmese Pythons Caught in the Everglades  

burmese pythonsThe Burmese Python is an invasive species to the Everglades, causing a lot of destruction. In July, 5,000 Burmese pythons have been captured in the Everglades since hunters have been paid to track them down since 2017. The program to hunt down pythons is run by  the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 

Scientists guess there are between 100,000 and 300,000 pythons in the Everglades. 

Registered hunters can earn a minimum wage for up to 10 hours of work a day, plus a bonus for their catch. They can receive $50 for each python measuring up to four feet plus $25 more for each food measured above four feet long. Hunters who catch a nesting female python will earn an extra $200. 

Pythons can easily reproduce in the Everglades because they have no real predators. Female pythons can lay up to 100 eggs.  

By reducing the number of pythons in the Everglades, hunters are helping bring a balance back to the ecosystem to the Everglades. 

Unfortunately, it has been estimated pythons have already eaten/killed more than 90 percent of mid-sized mammals in the Everglades. Pythons can eat more than their own body weight and grow up to seven feet long in their first year of life. Researchers are worried bird species will be wiped out in the Everglades, especially since they aren’t prepared to deal with this invasive predator. 

The answer to restoring the wildlife balance in the Everglades lies in the reduction/eradication of the pythons. To get a permit to hunt for pythons, click Everglades python permit page. 

The pythons lower animal populations by eating them, but they also 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 is changing the entire ecosystem of the Everglades 

If python hunting isn’t your thing, visit the Everglades in a much more relaxing way… on an airboat tour! An airboat tour will give you a glimpse of the Everglades’ native, wonderful wildlife that is still around, despite pythons. To book a tour, click the Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours  page or call 239-695-3377. 

 

 

Endangered Species: Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow 

Cape Sable seaside sparrowThe Cape Sable seaside sparrow is an endangered species in the Everglades. In order for this bird to survive in the Everglades, an ideal water level for this bird must be maintained, and that is no easy task.  

Between April and July, the sparrow builds its nests a mere six inches off the ground, so it needs a water level high enough to keep it away from predators and low enough, so the nest doesn’t wash away.  This bird is nicknamed the “Goldilocks bird” because its habitat conditions have to be “just right” for it to survive. In 1981, there were an estimated 6,656 Cape Sable seaside sparrows in the Everglades, but by 2002 there were only around 2,624 of the birds around. 

The sparrow lives in six different locations of the Everglades, usually rocky grass prairies with muhly grass; the Everglades is the only ecosystem the bird exists in.  In these short-hyrdoperiod prairies, there is somewhat dense, clumped grasses with open space for the sparrows to move around. The sparrows’ nests are cup-shaped, and the bird itself is only 5 inches long. The sparrow is a dark olive gray in color with a brown back and light gray with dark olive color lines on the sides; there are small patches of yellow feathers around the eyes and the bend of the wings. These birds feed on grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, spiders, and seeds from the grass. They are known to have short-range movements and do travel far away from their nesting areas outside of the breeding season. A sparrow usually only lives to the age of four. 

According to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the condition of the sparrow is so dire and they’re trying to do anything they can to save them, even if this means giving one pair of sparrows the opportunity to breed. They believe this year will be the worst breed year they’ve seen for the sparrow in decades. 

Spot the Sparrow 

The Capble Sable seaside sparrow is disappearing. A change in a mere couple of centimeters of water in the sparrow’s habitat can determine whether or not the birds can or will breed. Scientists and officials are continuing to work on restorations plans that will protect the bird and its environment without causing too many problems elsewhere. Getting the Everglades back to its original state, will help this bird and many other species. The restored water flows which will help keep the rise of sea level at bay.  

If you’d like an opportunity to see a sparrow fly by, an airboat tour may be your chance. Airboats can bring you all around the Everglades to places you cannot get to by foot. To explore the Everglades, contact Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours 

Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page. 

 

 

 

Ecosystems in the Everglades: Part 2 

pinelandsIn a blog post last week, we discussed two different ecosystems in the Everglades: mangroves and coastal lowlands. Those are just two of many of the ecosystems within the Everglades.  

Each ecosystem looks and acts different and helps the circle of life. On an airboat tour with Captain Mitch, you will fly by many of the Everglades’ ecosystems. For this blog post, we wanted to share some information with you on two more ecosystems in the Everglades.  

Pinelands:  Pinelands are forests that live in the exposed limestone substrate of south Florida. It’s a rugged terrain with a slash pine canopy. Throughout the pinelands, there is a variety of different flora and endemic species, which only grow in the local area. The pinelands are also known as the pine rocklands. For this ecosystem to thrive, fire is essential. The fires help clear out faster-growing hardwoods that block out light to pine seedlings. The plants in this area are used to frequent fires. The Park uses prescribed fires to mimic the natural pattern of fires to help keep the pinelands alive.  

Harwood hammock: Hardwood hammock is a dense area of broad-leafed trees that grow on a natural rise just a few inches. Hammocks can be found in most all ecosystems in the Everglades. Many tropical species like mahogany, gumbo limbo, cocoplum, along with temperate species like live oak, red maple, and hackberry live in hardwood hammocks. Since the plant life is so varied in a hardwood hammock, there are lot’s of wildlife that live their too. Due to the elevation, hardwood hammocks hardly flood. These hammocks are also protected by fire as acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around the tree islands that creates a moat. Ferns and airplants are seen throughout hardwood hammocks due to the moisture-filled air and shaded areas.  

As you can see, there’s lots of moving parts that make these ecosystems thrive, so it’s important to protect and care for all these different ecosystems as they all play a critical role in the lifecycles of endless plant, animal, and insect species.  

Next month, we will discuss about the following ecosystems: freshwater sloughs, freshwater marl prairie, cypress, and marine and estuarine 

Want to see a few different ecosystems up close? 

Come on down and enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades on an airboat tour that leaves from Everglades City. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page. 

 

 

 

 

Ecosystems in the Everglades: Part 1 

mangrovesThere are many different ecosystems in the Everglades. In fact, you will fly by many of them on one our airboat tours. For this blog post, we wanted to share some information with you on a few of the ecosystems in the Everglades.  

Mangroves: Mangrove forests live along coastal channels and winding rivers in south Florida and the Everglades. The term “mangrove” identifies several species of salt-tolerant trees that thrive in harsh growing conditions along the coast. There is red black, and white mangroves found in the Everglades. The red mangroves are the most well-known for their stilt-like roots that stick out above the water. These mangroves live in tidal waters where the freshwater and saltwater mix together. The Everglades is home to the largest population of protected mangrove forests in the hemisphere. Many marine species call mangrove forests home. Birds also use mangroves during their nesting periods. Mangrove forests also help protect inland and the Everglades from surges and winds due to hurricanes.  

Coastal lowlands: Coastal lowlands live between tidal mud flats in Florida Bay and dry land. The coastal lowlands are also known as the coastal prairie. This area is well-drained and is filled with shrubby, salt-tolerant vegetation. No mangroves can thrive in the coastal lowlands due to periodic flooding and heavy winds. Many different species can live in the lowlands due to its varying salinity levels. Succulents and other desert-like plants are known to thrive in the lowlands.  

It’s important to protect  and care for all these different ecosystems as they all play a critical role in the lifecycles of endless plant, animal, and insect species.  

Want to see a few different ecosystems up close?  

Next week, we will discuss about the following ecosystems: pinelands and hardwood hammock.  

Come on down and enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades on an airboat tour that leaves from Everglades City. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Private Airboat Tours  is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 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).  

To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.