The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Florida waterscapes in 2003

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The Florida Everglades is a long river of sawgrass, only a meter deep but tens of kilometers wide, that drains from Lake Okeechobee towards the southern tip of Florida. Despite its long trip, the maximum elevation in the Everglades is less than 3 meters (about 8 feet). The Everglades can be described in two different ways.

#1: It is a wetland of international significance, more than 600,000 hectares (2300 square miles) in area, rich in wildlife, housing rare species such as the Florida Panther. It is an important stopover point for migrating birds.

#2: The Everglades is dying. It is less than 1/5 its historical size, its hydrology has been completely disrupted by canals and other engineering projects in Florida. The keystone species such as the panther (with only 30 animals left) are dying from mercury poisoning. Populations of the birds have plummeted by as much as 93%. Non-native plants are widespread, and a new invader (Lygodium) may be the worst yet.

The truth, of course, is a fusion of both these descriptions. The Everglades is a great place to see wildlife, but we can only imagine what it was like 50 or 100 years ago. On the other hand, it is probably a lot better right now than it will be in 50 or 100 years in the future!

Portrayed in this photo montage is an anhinga, one of the many birds I saw as I drove from Miami down to Flamingo, at the very southern tip of mainland Florida.

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Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005