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Everglades National Park

Interesting Facts and Links

National Park Website
Geologic Information on the Everglades
General Information
National Park Information

As the park opened in 1947 the Everglades National Park spans the southern tip of Florida and most of the bay. The park is 1,506,539 acres (606,688 hectares) in size. It is the only subtropical area in North America. It contains both temperate and tropical plant communities, including sawgrass prairies, mangrove and cypress swamps, pinelands, and hardwood hammocks, as well as marine and estuarine environments. The park is known for its rich bird life, particularly large wading birds, such as the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron and a variety of egrets. It is also the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. Pollution is a real threat to the Everglades and is always causing seroius problems in keeping its habitat as pure as possible. Water levels and pollution remain significant concerns. Low water flows concentrate pollutants from commercial and agricultural runoff, including toxic levels of phosphorous, nitrogen, and mercury. Hammocks are patches of elevated dry land enclosed by the swamp. A dense tropical forest grows here. The vegetation is limited to tropical and swamp plants that survive with an abundance of water. Many tropical plants from South America are visible in the Everglades. This ecosystem helps preserve many plants and animals. The rocks beneath the Big Cypress Swamp are among the oldest in South Florida. Six million years ago a shallow sea covered this area. Sediments of silt and sand and particles of calcium deposited on the bottom of this sea gradually cemented into limestone. Today this rock is called the Tamiami Formation. Other rocks beneath the Everglades were formed during the time of the Great Ice Age. Although no glaciers developed in Florida, their effects were felt here. As glaciers in other areas of the world expanded, much of the earth's water supply was trapped in the ice. Sea levels in South Florida lowered as much as 300 feet below present levels. The rocks beneath the southeast section of the Park were formed in this sea. Calcium carbonate settling out of the water coated tiny bits of shell or sand in layer upon layer. The resulting spherical grains of limestone are called ooids. The Atlantic Coastal Ridge which runs from Mahogany Hammock northeast to Miami was formed as long shore currents pushed the ooids up into a long ridge. The ooids later cemented into rock known as Miami Oolite. Miami Oolite also covers most of the area east of Everglades National Park and most of Florida Bay. In quieter waters covering the central portions of the Park, tiny moss animals called Bryozoans flourished. As they died their calcium skeletons settled to the bottom. These sediments later cemented into rock known as the Miami Bryzoan Limestone. The environment here is in many ways defined by water. A freshwater river varying from just inches to several feet in depth, and 50 or more miles wide creeps seaward through the Everglades on a riverbed that slopes ever so gradually. Along it's course of hundreds of miles, the river drops just 15 feet, finally emptying into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Along the coast where fresh and salt waters mix, mangrove forests dominate the landscape. The Everglades are filled with a variety of spectacular creatures including ospreys, eagles, herons, turtles, and alligators surround us in this pristine wilderness setting. As we camp along beautiful white sandy beaches, keep an eye out for seashells, porpoise and horseshoe crabs. Everglades National Park is the largest remaining sub-tropical wilderness in the continental United States and has extensive fresh and saltwater areas, open Everglades prairies, and mangrove forests. Abundant wildlife includes rare and colorful birds, and this is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side.