The sun sinks behind the horizon, coloring the sky a bright orange before night falls in South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.
It’s Manatee Appreciation Day! These gentle giants can grow to over 14 feet in length and weigh over 3,000 pounds. Also, known as “sea cows,” manatees feed on seagrasses and other aquatic plants. Today, the total population is estimated to be at least 13,000 manatees, with more than 6,500 in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. When aerial surveys began in 1991, there were only an estimated 1,267 manatees in Florida. Check out more fun facts about manatees: https://on.doi.gov/2fpJzxv Photo from Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Famous for its place in space travel history, Canaveral National Seashore in Florida has wonders that are much easier to experience than the walking on the Moon. As high-tech rockets soar into space, sea turtles – one of the oldest animals still living on Earth – nest on a nearby beach. Walking paths lead visitors by more than 1,000 species of plants as exotic birds fly overhead. Mosquito Lagoon harbors an amazing variety of fish, oysters, crabs and shrimp. We also recommend settling in the sand and watching the sunset. Photo by Phillip Lott (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Golden sunrise light streams through the pinelands at Everglades National Park in Florida. Across the park’s 1.5 million acres, thick forests transition to wide wetlands and coastal lowlands; each distinct ecosystem dependent on water conditions and a few inches of elevation. On your next adventure, explore these different lands and waters in search of your perfect Everglades moment. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.
The craggy arms of a large, red mangrove stretch out to greet the morning sun at Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex. Rising above the water line on aerial prop roots and thriving on tropical coastlines, mangroves provide shelter for plants and animals. They’re just one of the many interesting sights you’ll see near the continental United States’s southernmost point. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Want to escape the winter cold? South Florida offers some amazing public lands getaways. Don’t miss sunrise at Big Cypress National Preserve. The orange light shimmers on the wetlands as a terrific variety of wildlife greets the morning. You’ll forget all about the snow at home. Photo by National Park Service.
On this day in 1947, Everglades National Park was established, protecting one of the largest wetlands in the world. Seventy years later, it remains an international treasure attracting visitors from all over who come to see the park’s mangroves, River of Grass, and unique array of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of this south Florida park, test your knowledge with 10 interesting facts about the Everglades: https://on.doi.gov/2j0PyMd
Photo by James Pion (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Dive into adventure at Biscayne National Park in Florida. Stretching out from a shoreline fringed with mangrove forest, the majority of the park covers the aquamarine waters of Biscayne Bay and extends into the Atlantic Ocean. Boating and fishing are popular activities, but some of the best views of Biscayne are found under the water, exploring the third largest coral reef in the world. Photo by Shaun Wolfe, National Park Service.
This time of year, Florida beaches call to people and animals alike. At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, migratory birds are finding their winter homes in forests and wetlands. Waterfowl populations reach their peak between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The refuge’s 43 miles of gulf coastline are perfect for birdwatching and gorgeous sunsets. Photo by Neil Hostnick (www.sharetheexperience.org).
After significant damage caused by Hurricane Irma, staff and volunteers have been hard at work on clean-up and repairs at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida to get the preserve ready for the busy winter season. Facilities are beginning to reopen and soon visitors can enjoy paddling, hiking, hunting, fishing, biking and birdwatching in this amazing wetland. Photo by National Park Service.