The last and final stop of our amazing full day tour of the Everglades with Eco Safari was an air boat tour through the heart of the Florida Everglades.
My fiancé and I had such a great time on this tour and I definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to get a full spectrum look at the Florida Everglades.While some of the Everglades is open water, most of it is swampy areas with grass and weeds sprouting out from the water. The picture below gives an accurate account of what it was like for most of our ride. It looks like a mere puddle but in reality we rode our boat with ease through all of these weeds and grass.Because the Everglades are so swampy and grassy, the only type of boat that is practical for navigating through it is an airboat. Airboats are boats that are propelled with a huge fan powered by an aircraft or automotive engine. So while they are still engine powered boats, the motor does not go under the water like a typical boat does. Airboats are extremely loud and can move relatively quickly, but they do not have breaks and can not reverse.
We were definitely looking forward to seeing some more gators, but sometimes it takes a little while to find them. In the meantime we had a good time checking out some of the different types of birds that also call the Everglades home.These black duck-like looking birds were my favorite. They actually don’t fly a whole lot, instead they spread their wings and “run” on the top of the water. I wish I could have gotten a video because it was that entertaining to watch.This Purple Gallinule was by far the prettiest bird we saw the entire time. Look at the amazing color of those feathers!Now, on to the gators! Luckily I have an amazing zoom lens on my Canon DSLR so while it looks like I’m sitting right next to these gators I was actually a reasonable distance away. Thank goodness because I like my gators like I like my sharks….far, far away.In the mid-1960’s alligators were endangered animals. Both the federal and state governments went through extensive work to make the alligator recovery a successful one. Their efforts paid off quickly, because by 1987 the alligator was removed from the endangered species list and was considered to be fully recovered.The alligator population is so strong now that there is a 10 day alligator hunting season. A hunting tag will cost a Florida resident $272 and an out of state resident $1,022. There is only a limited amount of tags given out each year and each person is limited to 2 gators.Surprisingly for being such a fierce predator, alligators are extremely social and can often be found basking in the sun in large groups. Their social aspect does not mean there is no hierarchy in their congregations. Occasionally, alligators will eat or attack other alligators, but only usually if they feel a sense of danger or if a smaller gator tries to exercise control over a larger gator.Alligators are cold-blooded reptiles so they can’t control their body temperature internally. When they are cold they bask in the sun on the shores of lakes, ponds, or swamps. When they are hot they go for a swim or float effortlessly under the water with just their eyes and the top of their snout sticking out of the water.In the wild the life span of an alligator is anywhere between 35-50 years. As I mentioned in my first post about our tour with Eco Safari, only a small amount of alligators hatched actually live to adulthood.Alligators are commonly seen as predators to humans. In reality, unless they feel threatened, alligators do not typically display aggressive behavior towards humans.
We actually have a 7 foot gator that makes his home in the pond right next to the pool in our complex (I’ve named him Al, very original, I know). Several times Al has been sunbathing on the shore of the pond, seen me, and quickly scurried away.That being said, alligator casualties do happen. In Florida, in early December, a 22 year old man, was burglarizing a home and then proceeded to jump into a nearby lake to hide from the cops as they arrived. This must have threatened the 11-foot gator that called that lake home, because 10 days later they found the mans body in the lake with several bite marks and wounds. Read the full story here.