Wildlife Viewing in the Everglades

wildlifeIt’s that time of year again! Wildlife view season in the Everglades. Sure, you can see birds and animals in the Park year-round, but more species migrate to the area during this winter, dry season. Unlike other areas of the country, the Everglades remains warm and since it is the dry season, there are also low water levels, which creates the ideal environment for many species to spend there time in…and even breed.

If you’re looking for an alligator, birds, or freshwater wildlife, your best bet is to head to Shark Valley, the Anhinga Trail (at Royal Palm) and Eco Pond. If you love birdwatching, Snake Bight (near Flamingo) and Chokoloskee Bay (Gulf Coast) are great spots to see water birds feeding.

The Everglades is a fragile habitat. From natural weather disasters to human development, the wetland has been stressed to be a healthy ecosystem. As humans, we are a guest in the Everglades; these animals and birds call this area home, so we need to respect them. They are wildlife, not pets, so it’s important to be respectful of all living creatures in the park, along with the Park itself. Bothering the animals could potentially stress them out or make them fearful or agitated. You do not want an animal angry with you, but also you do not want to upset an animal, because it could migrate or breed elsewhere (or not at all).

For this post, we wanted to share with you some wildlife viewing rules and tips while in Everglades National Park. Although some of these rules seem like no-brainers, it’s always good to refresh your memory. These rules come straight from the National Park Service.

  • Keep a good distance away from all wildlife.
  • Use binoculars or spotting scopes to get a berry view of any creature.
  • Never chase or corner an animal.
  • If an animal/bird seems agitated, back away, and even leave the area if it does not calm down.
  • Stay on the trails. You don’t want to disturb nests and dens.
  • Do not need wildlife.
  • If you find a sick or hurt animal or bird, leave it alone. If you’re concerned, fine a Park ranger or employee.
  • Do not bring your dogs onto the trails; they are not allowed.
  • Respect the environment if you do choose to go off the trails.

You can either view wildlife by foot or by airboat! Come do some wildlife viewing 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, click here or call 800-368-0065.

Dolphins of the Everglades: the swamp’s smartest animal

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins possess heightened senses allowing them to socialize, sympathize and strategize, deeming them the smartest animal in the Everglades. These magnificent marine mammals frequent south Florida and can be seen surfacing off the Gulf Coast and in the Everglades’ brackish waters.

These intelligent animals are incredibly social, so you’ll often spot them swimming in groups called pods. Dolphins develop intimate relationships with members of their pod, and they function like a tight-knit family.

Extremely active, you might catch two dolphins chasing after each other or jumping up out of the water as if performing tricks. And sometimes playtime and mealtime overlap. When hunting, a dolphin may play with a fish for a while before actually eating it.

What’s more enjoyable than playing with your food? Actually tasting it. A dolphin’s taste buds interpret four of five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. These aquatic masterminds can also use taste to track down prey. A dolphin can taste whether an area was recently populated by a school of fish, thus making it easier to find food.

Another way dolphins hunt is through echolocation. By emitting a high-pitched whistle, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin interprets the sound reflection in a given area. This helps them understand where fish are and when they were there.

But hunting isn’t the only time speech comes in handy. Though scientists can’t identify whether dolphins actually use their own language, they are certain of dolphins’ ability to speak to each other. Listen for clicks, squeaks and whistles resonating from a pod. That’s often the sound of dolphins communicating with one another.

And verbal communication isn’t the only way bottlenose dolphins interact. Body language serves as an effective communicating tactic. When a dolphin is perturbed or if it wants to gain the rest of the pod’s attention, it might slap its tail.

Where to find them

Atlantic bottlenose dolphins reside in the Everglades’ largest body of water, Florida Bay. This shallow, brackish water body houses approximately 450 resident dolphins. The best way to see them? Hire an airboat for the chance to glide past these brilliant creatures in their natural Everglades habitat.

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours offer exceptional Everglades tours with unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities. Schedule a tour with Captain Mitch by clicking here or calling 239-695-3377.