The alligators of Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in United States, and its 3rd largest national park (excluding Alaska area), with 1 mil visitors per year.It is made of a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing from Lake Okeechobee, southeast into Florida Bay. The park was established in 1934.

The Park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America, contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere,is home to 36 threatened or protected species including the Florida panther and the American crocodile, and supports 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles.

While there, we took a boat trip with the park’s agency ( evergladessafaripark ), although boats having quite noisy engines can harm the ecosystem! But before that we had a short introduction to the top predator, the alligator, which proved to be very useful in helping to seeing them as intelligent animals, with a big role in the ecosystem, rather then merciless killers, as most visitors would think beforehand! We also found it funny that a restaurant at the entrance in the park is actually serving alligator meat, in contrast to park’s prime role of protector of alligators, but hey, better satisfy your curiosity here than in any other place or manner! But lets not forget the other more important roles of alligator except then occasionally feeding us, the alligators may control the long-term vegetation dynamics in wetlands by reducing the population of small mammals which may otherwise overgraze marsh vegetation and in this way, the vital ecological service they provide may be important in reducing rates of coastal wetland losses in Louisiana (and wetlands are an important and indispensable for humans filter of nature, among others). The alligators may also dig holes that retain water during the dry season and provide a refuge for aquatic organisms. Clearly, as anywhere in nature, an impact on alligator, as well as other species of an ecosystem, has a chain impact on all the other species, on the ecosystem’s balance and eventually on the humans!

Conclusion: visit the park, enjoy its tour/walking paths/restaurant, but remember the responsible educative part of the trip! For more of our pictures from Everglades visit also our facebook account here .

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