With the support of many early conservationists, scientists, and other advocates, Everglades National Park was established in 1947 to conserve the natural landscape and prevent further degradation of its land, plants, and animals. Protecting 1.5 million acres (2,400 square miles) Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. It is an unparalleled landscape that is home to many rare and endangered plant and animal species like the manatee, American crocodile and the elusive Florida panther. It has been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance, significant to ALL people of the world.
Lisa and I only spent part of a day in and around the Everglades and given the size of the park we were only able to see a very small part of it. However, even a few hours spent there was worth it. There is no other place on Earth like it.
I am not an experienced wildlife photographer (I’m working on it), but I was very excited to have the chance to photograph all the fantastic birds, alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitat. I’m very pleased with this shot of an American Alligator (shown below), it posed very nicely for me! The shot was taken on Lake Tafford, about 40 miles southeast of Fort Myers, Florida which is not part of Everglades National Park. We were in an airboat and came across this adult alligator which was maybe 10 feet long. Using my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L lens with a Canon 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 280mm on a Canon 5D Mark III body I was able to completely fill the frame with the alligator’s head. Although not considered a “wildlife” lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L in combination with the 1.4x extender works well if you aren’t too far away from your subject. Alligators prefer freshwater, but will sometime enter more brackish water (water that has more salinity than freshwater, but not as much as seawater) or even saltwater for short periods of time. What a menacing look….I would not want to meet one of these in the water face to face!
Red Mangroves thrive in subtropical areas so they are very common along Florida’s coastlines in brackish water and in swampy salt marshes. Because they are well adapted to salt water, they thrive where many other plants fail and create their own ecosystems. As you can see in the image below, Red Mangroves are easily distinguishable through their unique prop roots system. The prop roots suspend it over the water giving it extra support and protection.
I managed to catch this wonderful Great Blue Heron right after it lifted out of the water. I would guess its wingspan was about 6 feet. I was fortunate to be on the right side of the boat and had a clear view of it as it lifted into the air and flew to my left. If you look closely you can see water droplets falling from its legs.
You can see more of my photography from the Everglades in my gallery here.
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