Restoring the Everglades

The Everglades isn’t just beautiful it’s crucial to sustaining so much life! It’s home to endless animals, birds, marine life, insects, and flora. And, it provides drinking water for 7 million Floridians – that’s one out of every three Floridians.  The area’s survival has become on the forefront of importance to officials in recent years for all these reasons.

The Everglades is primarily made up of water, and is actually a flowing river. Water flows from north to south from Lake Okeechobee. It is a very slow moving river. These days, its dimensions are 60 miles wide and 100 miles long. It used to be even larger!  Unfortunately, due to construction and drainage projects, close to 50 percent of the wetland has been destroyed. Natural areas of the Everglades were replaced with residential areas, urban areas, and farms.

Now, an Everglades Restoration Plan is in place to restore the water flow to its historic, natural flow. On Earth Day, one of these plans, building the Tamiami Bridge, began construction. Why is a restoration plan needed? Well if it’s never restored, the area may disappear.  Because of humans, Lake Okeechobee became connected to estuaries through the Calooshatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. When this occurred, the rivers began receiving water from the lake that compromised the fragile estuarine ecosystem. Other Everglades areas now receive polluted water from the Lake that came from the farming areas. Vegetation and wildlife have changed in these areas because of it. Since the Everglades is home to 16 endangered or threatened species, it’s even more crucial to get the water flowing properly. One small change in the ecosystem and an entire species can disappear, and no one wants that to happen.

This Restoration Plan contains around 60 components that will restore the ecosystem, provide flood protection, and ensure water supplies. Some plans include: Kissimmee River restoration project; building additional storm water treatment areas and flow equalization basins, the Picayune Strand Restoration Project, Tamiami Bridge, and the C-111 Spreader Canal.

Explore The Beautiful Everglades

The Everglades is one-of-a-kind place of wonder; it has been designated biodiversity global hotspot, because it is one of the richest and most threatened areas with plant and animal life on the planet. Protection of this area is crucial, especially if people want to continue to benefit from its water and beauty in the future. It’s a must-see place. To explore the area, an airboat tour brings people up-close-and-personal with the wetland. To book an airboat tour, click here or call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377.


The post Restoring the Everglades appeared first on Homestead Miami Airboat Tours & Rides.

Turtles of the Everglades

While turtles may not be the most famous reptile that is found in the Everglades, they should certainly not be forgotten. There are over a dozen known species of turtles currently living in and around the Everglades today, and even a few species of tortoise and terrapin as well. Unfortunately, many of the turtle species that can be found in and around Florida waters are endangered or under serious threat of becoming so, and are under special regulation for protection.

Here are four of the most common types of turtles found in the Everglades today:

Atlantic Loggerhead
Sometimes referred to simply as the loggerhead or loggerhead sea turtle, this species of saltwater turtle can be found throughout the world, though it has a strong preference for warmer waters around the equator. While they do spend most of their time in the open ocean, they can be found along coastlines and in brackish estuaries, such as those that occur in the Florida Everglades. And while baby loggerheads are quite susceptible to predators, adults can grow quite large – reaching weights of up to 1,000 pounds while living up to 70 years.

Atlantic Hawksbill
While the hawksbill sea turtle shares much of the same habitats as the loggerhead, with an average size of around 180 pounds it is a much smaller species of turtle. Other than its size, what distinguishes this turtle from others in the areas in which it lives – as well as the reason it got its name – is its distinctive hawk-like beak. Additionally, this interesting turtle species was the first known reptile to show signs of biofluorescence, a characteristic which has made their shells highly collectable and valuable while sadly leading to their near extinction.

Florida Box Turtle
In comparison to the previously mentioned turtles, Florida box turtles are much smaller and more docile. And, interestingly, while this species possesses both sharp beaks and sharp claws, they are actually omnivores with a preference towards fruits, vegetables, and fungi, in addition to small insects. This is one species of turtle that humans are allowed to keep as pets, though no more than two are allowed in a single residence without a special reptile permit.

Florida Red-Bellied Cooter
The red-bellied cooter 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. Perhaps what is most interesting about this specific type of turtle is their seeming fearlessness around alligators – 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. Like the Florida box turtle, red-bellied cooters are often kept as pets and are commonly exported all around the world.

To see these turtles and more of Florida’s exciting natural residents, consider an Everglades airboat tour adventure for your family this season. As most of these turtles are protected species and must be enjoyed from a distance, an airboat ride is truly the best way to have fun while giving mother nature its much-deserved space and respect.

The post Turtles of the Everglades appeared first on Homestead Miami Airboat Tours & Rides.

Peregrine Falcon

Though the peregrine falcon is certainly not exclusive to South Florida, the species is one of the Everglades’ greatest hunters. The name peregrine falcon literally means “wandering falcon”, and the species has up to nineteen listed subspecies, though one or two of these are currently up for scientific debate. They are members of the raptor family, and though not great in size – caping out at around two pounds and a couple of feet in length – they are one of the most feared and respected birds throughout the world.

This well known bird of prey can be found on six of the seven continents and is quite versatile in its habitat. Because of this, it is one of the most widespread species of all birds, and is only absent from areas of extreme cold, extreme altitude, and extreme rainfall. In fact, only the rock pigeon is more widespread than the peregrine falcon, a species which is actually one of the later’s most desirable prey. Like the rock pigeon, peregrine falcons are becoming more and more common in populated cities, though they do prefer low mountain ranges, river valleys, and open coastlines.

The peregrine falcon is the single fastest species that can be found in the entire animal kingdom. In fact, with the highest measured speed of a peregrine falcon coming in at 242 mph, these amazing birds can beat out most top of the line sports vehicles as well. The peregrine falcon, however, only reaches these extreme speeds during a stoop, which is a hunting tactic in which the raptor first climbs to a high altitude before diving steeply towards its prey. And, for the estimated 1,500-2,000 species of smaller birds that the peregrine falcon feeds on worldwide, being caught in this predator’s line of site while hunting is an almost sure sign of impeding death.

While notable for its great speeds, the peregrine falcon is perhaps most famous for its trainability as a falconry bird. In this hunting tactic, a trained falcon stalks and kills its prey, but instead of eating its capture itself, it returns its victim willingly to its human owner. The earliest accounts of the practice of falconry occurred in 2,000 BC, and are not only evidence of the interesting relationship that has existed between human beings and these birds for centuries, but are strong evidence for the extreme level of intelligence these birds possess as well.

For your chance of spotting a peregrine falcon in the wild, as well as for other amazing bird-watching opportunities in South Florida, there’s truly nothing better than an airboat tour through the Everglades. No one knows the area better than an experienced Florida swamp tour guide, and you’ll find just that with Captain Mitch and his friendly crew.

The post Peregrine Falcon appeared first on Homestead Miami Airboat Tours & Rides.

The Dangers of Red Tide

If you live in Florida, there is a good chance you are familiar with red tide – especially if you have been in Florida in the last decade or so, as three major red tides have occurred in recent years along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This colorful phenomenon is not only highly noticeable when it occurs in local waters, but it also has a large affect on the local ecology and economy as well.

Despite its somewhat morbid appearance, giving seawater the distinct tinge of a deep blood-red, red tide is actually the result of something somewhat unexpected. When certain types of algae, called dinoflagellates, are present in high amounts, it causes what is known as an algal bloom. It’s important to note, however, that not all algal blooms will result in a red tide, as not all types of algae are red or brown in color, and oftentimes their concentration is not actually high enough to cause a change in the water’s appearance.

It also important to note that the title of “red tide” is not entirely accurate, especially as the phenomenon has nothing to do with the tides at all. Furthermore, harmful algal blooms can occur just as easily with dinoflagellates that are not red in color, and which in fact blend in so well with the natural coloring of the water that they are almost entirely undetectable. It is these algal blooms that are perhaps the most dangerous, because their presence is much less obvious while their affects can be just as disastrous.

But what makes algal blooms so dangerous? In terms of direct causes to the local wildlife, the affects can be quite deadly. Karenia brevis, the microorganism which is present in most Florida cases of red tide, produces brevotoxins that are highly poisonous to marine life. These toxins build up in seagrass and sediment, which is then fed on by primary consumers and eventually eaten by predators, negatively affecting and killing wildlife at all stages of the food chain.

While it’s not uncommon for red tide and other algal blooms to kill off large populations of fish and manatees, these harmful affects reach human beings in the area as well. Economically, the affects on marine life cause disruptions to fisheries and local restaurants, as animals containing brevotoxins are unsafe for human consumption. Furthermore, fishermen, beachgoers, and boaters can be affected simply through air exposure, as certain algal blooms can cause eye irritation and respiratory problems, especially in those with respiratory conditions already present.

Fortunately, no major red tides have occurred in South Florida during the 2015 season, and the coastlines and estuaries of the Everglades can easily be enjoyed on an exciting airboat tour. To view the Everglades ecosystem at its best, schedule a Florida swampland tour that the whole family can enjoy today.

The post The Dangers of Red Tide appeared first on Homestead Miami Airboat Tours & Rides.