Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Everglades National Park
Florida Everglades- a living riverEverglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, boasts rare and endangered species. The largest body of water within the park is Florida Bay, which extends from the mangrove swamps of the mainland's southern tip to the Florida Keys. Over 800 square miles of marine ecosystem lies in this range. Coral, sponges, and seagrasses serve as shelter and food for crustaceans and mollusks, which in turn are the primary food source for larger marine animals. Sharks, stingrays, and barracudas also live in this ecosystem, as do larger species of fish that attract sport fishing. Pelicans, shorebirds, terns, and black skimmers  are among the birds frequenting park shorelines. Everglades National Park contains the southern 25 percent of the original Everglades marshland region of southwestern Florida. The park visited by one million people each year and has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, only one of three locations in the world to appear on all three lists. The Everglades is a slow-moving system of rivers, flowing southwest at about .25 miles  per day, fed by the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee.

Unlike most other U.S. national parks, Everglades National Park was created to protect a fragile ecosystem instead of safeguarding a geographic feature. Floridians hoping to preserve at least part of the Everglades first proposed that the area become a national park in 1923. Five years later, the Florida state legislature established the Tropical Everglades National Park Commission to study the formation of a protected area. Thirty-six species designated as threatened or protected live in the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee. Protecting the largest U.S. wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, the park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America, and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere. More than 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles live within Everglades National Park. All of southern Florida's fresh water is recharged by the park, including that of the Biscayne Aquifer.



american alligator in Florida EvergladesOf the four walking trails suitable for families and children, Snake Bite Trail is the most popular. You can walk it or ride the wilderness train, which starts near the park ranger station. The trail unwinds beneath the umbrella of a hardwood forest inhabited by some 345 birds species and nearly 100 kinds of butterflies, including such rarities as the dingy purple wings, least Florida skippers, mimics, and byssus skippers.

Along with an interesting variety of amphibians and reptiles, the park is host to Seminole bats, nine-banded armadillos, black bears, Everglades minks, and bobcats. On the Rowdy Bend, Bear Lake, and Christian Point trails, you can see other facets of this unique ecological system.

Four cruises ply the local waterways, three of them along scenic Florida Bay, where at low tide you can expect to see brown pelicans, egrets, great blue herons, and other large birds scouting the shoreline for food. For those more intrigued by the inland waterways and plant life, a pontoon boat makes sorties into the Everglades wilderness.

Canoeists can take any of five different trails. If time is no problem you can tackle the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway, which takes you through the back country between Everglades City and Flamingo.

Several species of mangrove trees, which thrive in saline and brackish water, act as a nursery for many marine and bird species. They are also Florida's first defense against the destructive forces of hurricanes, absorbing flood waters and preventing coastal erosion. Due to their high tolerance of salt water, winds, extreme tides, high temperatures, and muddy soils, mangrove trees are uniquely adapted to extreme conditions. The mangrove system in Everglades National Park is the largest continuous system of mangroves in the world. There are 220 species of fish living in the Florida mangrove systems, along with a variety of crabs, crayfish, shrimp, mollusks, and other invertebrates, which serve as the main source of food for many birds.

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Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. The king of Floridian nature, the everglades has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, only one of three locations in the world to appear on all three lists.Thirty-six species designated as threatened or protected live in the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee. Protecting the largest U.S. wilderness area east of the Mississippi River, the park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America, and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
Everglades National Park is visited by over one million people each year. Nature can be seen through nature walks, canoeing and air boats. Of the four walking trails suitable for families and children, Snake Bite Trail is the most popular. You can walk it or ride the wilderness train, which starts near the park ranger station. The trail unwinds beneath the umbrella of a hardwood forest inhabited by some 345 birds species and nearly 100 kinds of butterflies, including such rarities as the dingy purple wings, least Florida skippers, mimics, and byssus skippers. Along with an interesting variety of amphibians and reptiles, the park is host to Seminole bats, nine-banded armadillos, black bears, Everglades minks, and bobcats. On the Rowdy Bend, Bear Lake, and Christian Point trails, you can see other facets of this unique ecological system. Four cruises ply the local waterways, three of them along scenic Florida Bay, where at low tide you can expect to see brown pelicans, egrets, great blue herons, and other large birds scouting the shoreline for food. For those more intrigued by the inland waterways and plant life, a pontoon boat makes sorties into the Everglades wilderness. Canoeists can take any of five different trails. If time is no problem you can tackle the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway, which takes you through the back country between Everglades City and Flamingo.
Everglades National Park
Date published: 10/22/2013
5 / 5 stars