Sunday, July 29, 2012

Whitewater Bay, Coot Bay, Florida Everglades National Park Service Naturalist Tour

Whitewater Bay is Florida's second largest body of water, second to Lake Okeechobee. It extends for many miles; the photo I took  is merely set against a flank. The bay has long protrusions and giant coves making it quite possible to get lost. We got there by Everglades National Park Service tour boat, a trip that felt a lot better than I expected on a guide boat for anyone to pay $26.00 and get on. No one of the six or seven others onboard annoyed my wife, son and I; we all developed something of a rapport, including the two guides, and the places we visited--the length of the brackish canal to Coot Bay, across Coot Bay to the creek that leads to Whitewater Bay--fascinated us, spoken about at length and in telling detail by the naturalist.

We did see six crocidiles in the canal, one of them 13 feet long or so. Water clarity darkened by a high tannic acid level, we spotted no fish. But the fishing in this region is reported to be outstanding. What crosses your mind when you view the mangrove roots I photographed? Possibly snook hid right there among them. And mangrove snappers are abundant. Tarpon scout both bays and bull sharks use them as nurseries. Many other shark species frequent the bays as well as many other fish species. Especially the much larger Whitewater Bay is an estaurine wilderness of the first order, just like a womb of the surrounding Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic. It is connected by an inlet to the Gulf many miles from where we entered six miles above Flamingo where Everglades National Park reaches Florida Bay. The park service rents boats with 40-horsepower outboards to ride up the canal to Coot and Whitewater bays to fish.

We walked many trails between Port Royal near the entrance and Flamingo; my son and I even drove 40 miles into the Glades and back at night. Matt photographed snakes on the road, including a 10-foot Burmese python. He grabbed the tail, getting sprayed like a garden hose with musk as his hold on the snake slipped, the python turning on him. By quickly evading a strike, Matt gave himself a Charlie horse he didn't feel until the encounter was done. He semi-circled back, grabbed the tail section and got the snake on the road to photograph it. Nor did we notice the cloud of mosquitos around each of us, and that our bodies hosted hundreds.  



Looks as if shot from space...
Burmese python
Banded watersnake
Scarlet snake (this series of three snakes we photographed on road to Flamingo at night, and the python we found at Flamingo).
We called this a chameleon while growing up, anole.


Five lined skink, I believe, unless a Floridian look alike.
Key deer

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