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.