The Florida Everglades, often described as a river of grass, presents a unique and vast ecosystem that stretches 60 miles wide and 100 miles long. This slow-moving river, with its half-mile per day flow, is a natural wonder full of fascinating secrets and environmental challenges. Here are five remarkable facts about this diverse and crucial habitat.
1. A Rare Coexistence: The Everglades stands alone globally as the only ecosystem where both alligators and crocodiles live together. This rare cohabitation offers a unique opportunity to observe these ancient reptiles in a shared natural habitat.
2. The Python Invasion: The Everglades faces a significant ecological threat from an invasion of Burmese pythons. This infestation, which began with the destruction of a snake breeding facility during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, has seen these massive snakes expanding northward, upsetting the ecological balance.
3. The Averted Ecological Disaster: In 1968, plans to construct a colossal airport for supersonic jets in the Everglades were halted by environmental activists. A federal report revealed that the project would have irreparably damaged the south Florida ecosystem, leading to the preservation of this vital environmental area.
4. Battling the Python Menace: Florida’s Python Elimination Program incentivizes individuals to hunt these invasive pythons, paying them based on the length of the snakes. Originally introduced as released pets, these pythons have wreaked havoc on local wildlife, prompting this unusual conservation strategy.
5. A Champion for the Everglades: At the age of 79, Marjory Stoneman Douglas became a pivotal figure in the fight against draining and developing the Everglades. Her relentless advocacy earned her the affectionate title “Grande Dame of the Everglades” and led to her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her environmental efforts.
These facts highlight the Everglades as not just a biodiverse wetland but a crucial battleground for conservation, showcasing the delicate balance between nature and human intervention.