Reasons to Go on an Airboat Ride

airboat tourThere are many ways to explore a park, but in the Everglades, you can explore a park in a way like no other on an airboat. As most people know, airboats are pretty iconic in the Everglades. Airboats are great way to travel in the Park that allow guests access to areas that are not accessible by foot. On an airboat tour, you will learn facts about the Park, while seeing birds, animals, reptiles, sea life, and plant life.

For this article, we wanted to share with you the many reasons of going on an airboat tour in the Everglades.

  • Airboats are considered safe for riders, wildlife, and plant life.
  • Airboats don’t redirect natural water currents or alter surface hydrology as much as regular boats.
  • Airboats, unlike regular boats, don’t cause soil and organic particles in the water to rise up and affect plants, fish, and other wildlife in the water.
  • An airboat can go anywhere, whether its shallow or deeper waters.
  • Airboats do not have any moving parts under the water, which makes it safer in the water for fish and plants nearby.
  • If there is a collision with plants or animals, an airboat will cause far less damage than an average boat because it does not have a propeller.
  • Airboats are stable, so you can move without risking the vessel tipping over.
  • On an airboat, you get a great view of your surroundings because of the raised seating.
  • Airboats can travel at different speeds to handle different situations. They can easily handle dense vegetation, sandbanks, dam walls, floating grass islands, and rocks in the water.
  • An airboat is easy to launch. In fact, only one person is needed to get the trip started.
  • An airboat doesn’t need a slip or ramp to be launched into the water.

Captain Mitch has been guiding airboat tours through the Everglades since he was a little tike. He followed in his family’s footsteps and began his own airboat touring company more than 30 years ago.

Come explore the Everglades safely in an airboat. It’s a truly unique experience.

It can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you. 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 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.

 

 

Spooky Stories from the Everglades

evergladesOctober is the “spooky” month filled with costumes, tv specials, ghost tours, and more. With Halloween right around the corner, we wanted to share some spooky stories of the  Everglades region.

–The Ghost Ship of the Everglades has been haunting Florida’s south coast since the days of pirating marauders — its 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 for hundreds of years.

–The story of Edgar Watson. No one knew where he came from, but he built a cabin in the Everglades over 100 years ago and largely kept to himself, until a fisherman found the gutted body of a woman floating in the Chatham River. Authorities eventually 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. It’s not clear what happened to the Calusa, an ancient tribe of Native Americans that resisted incursion by the Spanish and fatally injured explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1521. 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. 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 Everglades, killing 96 of 163 people onboard. 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.

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.

The Everglades and Hurricanes

hurricanesIt’s currently hurricane season, so we wanted to discuss how the Everglades hold up in hurricanes. In short, the Everglades is resilient.

Florida, including the Everglades, has experienced its share of devastating hurricanes, including Hurricane Irma, which passed through in September 2017. Although the Everglades is comprised of water in many forms, it can be negatively impacted by the heavy winds and excessive rain. But, how do hurricanes truly affect a place like the Everglades?

First off, wildlife is heavily affected. Whether it’s birds or fish, they all feel the effects of a major storm. During a major hurricane, the rough seas can wash ashore many fish and mammals, including dolphins and manatees. Bird can also be blown extremely far away from their homes and flight paths. Strong winds and storm surges can cause trees to collapse, land to wash away, and habitats to disappear. Even food sources (berries, fruits, nuts) get washed away and ripped off plants.

In the Everglades, there are fresh and saltwater sources, but a hurricane and throw off their balance and mix the two. Many fish, and other marine life, depend on the ideal salinity in the water to survive. When this balance is thrown off, many creatures can die or are forced to thrive in a very different environment. In these storms, the saltwater pushes up into the freshwater inland rivers and lakes of the Everglades, while heavy rains overflow all water sources, so fresh water enters the ocean. The excessive rain and run-off can also pollute the ocean and the streams and other water sources in the Everglades.

The strong forces of the winds of a hurricane can also harm and kill wildlife. For example, 180 million fish were killed in the Everglades during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

When Hurricane Wilma came through in 2015, it toppled thousands of threes, and wiped out campsites in the Park. Florida Bay was flooded, employee houses were wrecked, and algae was left on roads. Even the surviving trees became bare. However, on the plus side (if there is one), storms can wipe out harmful exotic species and plants, which can help the native species a chance to grow and thrive again.

After a major hurricane, the Park certainly will look different, but it will restore itself. With the help of Park employees and volunteers, the Park can be up and running again despite damages and repairs.

Looking to explore the Everglades? Not in a storm, of course! A great way to get around the everglades is on an airboat ride. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours will bring you in and out of all the wetland’s beautiful waterways where you can see a variety of plant and animal life. 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.

 

Turtles Who Call the Everglades ‘Home’

turtlesYou hear a lot about alligators in the Everglades, but what about turtles? There’s a lot of them. In fact, there are over a dozen species of turtles living in the Park. Unfortunately, many of these turtles are endangered or threatened and there are special regulations in place to protect them.

For this article, we wanted to share some information with you about the four most common species of turtles found in the Everglades.

Atlantic Loggerhead – This turtle if often referred to as a loggerhead or loggerhead sea turtle. This is a saltwater turtle that can be found throughout the world, though it has a strong preference for warmer waters around the equator. Loggerheads spend most of their time in the open ocean, but they can be found along coastlines and in brackish estuaries, such as those that occur in the Florida Everglades. Adult loggerheads can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and live up to 70 years old.

Atlantic Hawksbill – The hawksbill sea turtle shares many of the same habitats as the loggerhead, but on average weighs around 180 pounds and is a much smaller species of turtle. It has a distinctive hawk-like beak. It also was the first known reptile to show signs of biofluorescence, which has made their shells highly collectable and valuable, sadly leading to their near extinction.

Florida Box Turtle –Florida box turtles are much smaller and more docile than loggerheads and hawksbills. They have sharp beaks and sharp claws, but they are actually omnivores and eat fruits, vegetables, and fungi, in addition to small insects. People are allowed to  box turtles as pets, though no more than two are allowed in a single home without a special reptile permit.

Florida Red-Bellied Cooter – This turtle species is another small species of turtle, rarely weighing in at over 10 pounds and with a distinctive red-tinged belly to give it its name. They can often be seen sharing logs or other basking areas with alligators, and are even known to lay their eggs in the nesting mounds of these fearsome predators. Red-bellied cooters are often kept as pets and are commonly exported all around the world.

Want to see some turtles in the Everglades? Jump on an Everglades airboat tour for a chance to see this reptile and other wildlife. Most of these turtles are protected species and must be enjoyed from a distance, so an airboat ride is the best way to view wildlife while giving them their space.

For a private, guided tour through Everglades, book an airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours.

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).

 

 

Habitats Within the Everglades

habitatsThe Everglades is a federally-protected National Park home to thousands of plants, wildlife, aquatic life, and more. It has a diverse ecosystem and has many species not found anywhere else on the planet. There are nine habitats in the Everglades. We wanted to share with you a little information about each habitat you can find in the Park.

Freshwater slough

Sloughs are mainly responsible for the water circulation throughout the Everglades. Sloughs are flooded, sunken areas of land that distribute freshwater to other areas of the ecosystem. There are two sloughs in Everglades National Park: Taylor Slough and the Shark River Slough, also known as the “River of Grass.” Both sloughs ensure freshwater reaches the Florida Bay. Because of freshwater, sloughs are popular wildlife congregation sites. If you visit the Everglades sloughs in the dry season (November through May), you will have the best chance to spot alligators.

Hardwood hammock

Hardwood hammocks are dry, slightly elevated concentrations of tropical and temperate trees with broad leaves. Hardwood hammock habitats rarely flood. The trees grow close together, creating overhead canopies with shade from the sun. Hardwood hammocks are home to the red-limbed Gumbo Limbo tree, ferns, mahogany, oak, maple and more.

Pinelands

Pineland habitats also grow on higher ground. Also known as the Pine Rocklands, skinny slash pine trees grow tall out of a hard limestone surface. Around the trees’ roots thrive various species of palm, from the adequately named saw palmetto to the edible sable palm. Believe it or not, pinelands rely heavily on fire for survival. Over the years, pineland trees adapted to fires by acquiring thick bark and growing needles only where the fire can’t reach.

Coastal lowlands

This habitat is great for the most resilient flora. Found near the shore of the Gulf Coast, coastal lowlands are used to severe weather, which restricts the growth of mangroves and other tall trees. Desert plants usually survive in coastal lowlands because they can withstand harsh storms without much protection. At the sandy lowlands you’ll see short, salt-tolerant shrubs like succulents.

Mangroves

The Everglades has the most abundant population of mangroves in the entire hemisphere.  Mangroves thrive where freshwater and saltwater meet. These salt-tolerant mangrove trees come in three colors: red, white and black, all of which nurture plant and water life. Mangrove habitats provide essential nutrients to marine animals by depositing fallen leaves into the water.

Cypress

These towering trees can grow in standing water or in breaks in the hard ground. When the limestone surface of a pineland habitat breaks, it gives way to “solution holes.” Often clusters of cypress trees grow inside these weathered pits, with the larger trees concentrated in the center. River otters often lounge on low-lying cypress trunks. Another popular inhabitant of cypress swamps is the American Alligator.

Marine and estuarine

Florida Bay is the Everglades’ largest water body. Freshwater from Everglades estuaries mixes with saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico to create the brackish conditions in Florida Bay. Towards the bottom of the bay you’ll find coral, mollusks and a plethora of gamefish. Closer to the surface, bottlenose dolphins swim in pods, loggerhead turtles coast leisurely, and West Indian Manatees float with their young.

You can see a glimpse of many of these habitats while on an airboat tour. Airboats are a safe way to explore the Park and see areas you may not get to on foot.

For a private, guided tour through Everglades, book an airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours.

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).

 

Spotting Bioluminescence in the Everglades

BioluminescenceHave you heard of bioluminescence? Picture the water at night glowing s neon-blue color looking like a starry night. That’s bioluminescence – and it’s not a man-made light, it’s coming from something that is alive.

Bioluminescence in the Everglades is the product of light-emitting aquatic microorganisms like algae and fungi. The most common light producing aquatic organisms are known as dinoflagellates, which give off a blue-green hue.

How can organisms create light? It occurs due to a chemical reaction between luciferin, the light-emitting property found in fireflies, and a light-bearing enzyme called luciferase. Being touched tends to stimulate bioluminescent organisms, so a boat’s bottom or an oar will trigger the lights to appear all over the water.

There is a purpose of this light. Bioluminescent organisms use the light to attract and deflect prey. Some species can even communicate with one another through those beautiful blue speckles you see at the water’s surface. The light is blue because blue light reaches farther distances in water, and it is also one of the only wavelengths marine organisms can interpret.

As you may know bioluminescence isn’t limited to the water, you’ve probably seen a firefly or two in your day. Also, a foxfire, which is a fungi that lives on tree trunks, emits a green glow.

In the Everglades, you are more likely to see bioluminescence by water at night. It usually occurs in brackish and coastal waters of the Everglades.

Everglades visitors claimed they’ve witnessed bioluminescence in the Everglades Wilderness Waterway, the 10,000 Islands region and in saltwater mangrove swamps. The phenomenon is only visible in the dark of night.

For a day time trip through the beautiful Everglades’ waterways,

For a guided tour through Everglades waterways, book an airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours. These rides 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).

 

 

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).