|Florida Bay||Bay head||Hardwood Hammock|
|Willow Head||Marsh||Habitat Pictures|
Florida Bay is located below the southern tip of Florida and bordered on the east and south by the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico on the west. It's greatest depth is 9 feet. It is largely shallow with many mud flats. The Florida Bay isn't any ordinary bay, it is special. It's the only place where the alligator and crocodile live side by side. Other animals that live in the Florida Bay water include: bottle-nosed dolphin, lobsters, shrimp, fish, and West Indian Manatee. The Florida Bay is also home to many sea turtles. The sea turtle species include: loggerhead, green turtle, Kemp Ridley, and hawksbill. Many bird species also live in and around the bay, such as sandpipers, pelicans, gulls, egrets, ospreys, herons, cormorants, flamingoes, and even bald eagles! There are many more.
Compared to the sawgrass and dry, elevated pinelands, mangroves are dense
and hard to walk through. They
start growing at the southern end of the park where freshwater and salt water
combine. There are three types:
red, black, and white mangroves. Red
mangroves are found along the shoreline and are well supported by many arching, stilt-like
above ground roots. These mangroves
protect the shoreline from strong storms like hurricanes.
Black mangroves grow farther inland.
They have roots that stick up like cigars out of the mud and/or water and
are called pneumatophores. They
help the trees breathe. White
mangroves grow farther inland away from the salt water.
Mammals often found in the mangroves are the opossum, raccoon, fox
squirrel and bobcat. Many birds can
be found there and use the mangroves as their nesting sites.
The endangered manatee and crocodile find shelter and food
around the roots of the red mangrove trees.
The mangroves are also considered the nursery of the sea because fish and
other sea creatures begin their lives among the protection of the treesí
roots. All of the mangroves
have an important role in the life of the Everglades.
heads are environments in a state of change. The willow head is usually found in or around sinkholes.
The trees have many leaves that fall into the sinkholes.
The decaying leaves make the water slightly acidic which continues to eat away
at the limestone. Plentiful alligators keep the holes clean and bare.
If the sinkholes donít have any alligators the holes will fill up with
peat and muck from the leaves of the willows.
After a long time the hole fills up completely and becomes home
to many different trees. Enough of the trees make it turn into either a bay head or
eventually a hardwood hammock.
Heads are freshwater tree islands that grow in depressions in the limestone or
on raised peat build-up on top of the limestone.
They are surrounded by moats. This
comes to a great advantage during the dry season.
The moat (most of the time) prevents the fires from crossing into the bay
head. The bay head is usually
formed when a willow head fills up with peat sufficiently for other trees to grow
there. Typical plants found there
are swamp holly, red bay, sweet bay, wax myrtle, and coco plums. alligators,
turtles, and fish live in the surrounding moat while many birds , mammals and
reptiles live on the island.
Marshes: Marshland is treeless land in which the water table is at, above, or just below the surface of the ground. Marshes are located around fresh or salt water. Freshwater marshes are in shallow margins of lakes and slow moving rivers. Salt marshes occur on coastal tidal flats. The nature of the marsh is influenced by the ecosystem. Some marshes, such as the Everglades' sawgrass wetlands, have water flowing like a sheet across the surface. In other marshes water flows through channels called sloughs. Marshes provide nesting spots for many animals such as waterfowl and shorebirds, otters, frogs, and many insects. Salt water marshes are wintering homes for many birds such as ducks, herons, and rails. The sawgrass marsh is sustained by a complex algal mass called periphyton. It is found around the stems of water plants, as well as floating on the surface. It supports a complex web of life by acting as the beginning of many food chains.
Hardwood Hammock: Some animals that live in the hardwood hammocks include: box turtle, green snake, gray fox, raccoon, Florida Panther, opossum, marsh rabbit, cotton mouse, bobcat, white-tailed deer, gray fox, tree frog, and the tree snail. The hardwood hammocks often have sinkholes and have more species of trees and shrubs then any other plant community in the United States. Hardwood hammocks have an elevation of three to seven feet above sea level. They are usually protected from fires by moats that surround them. These tree islands differ from the bay head by having larger tree species as well as a larger variety of plant life. Some typical trees found there are the royal palm, mahogany, gumbo-limbo, and live oak. Growing on the trees are orchids, ferns, and bromeliads (air plants).
Pinelands have an elevation of about 6 feet above sea level.
It is the driest park habitat and very rocky.
Fire is an important part of the pinelands survival.
It burns out the underbrush ensuring the pine trees' survival.
The pine trees, however, have a natural protection to fire.
Their bark insulates their trunk, and the fire helps the trees reproduce. Indians
used the soot from the burnt trees for facial paint. Some animals that live in the pineland habitat include:
owl, black bear, coral snake, diamondback rattlesnake, indigo snake, king snake,
red-headed woodpecker, red
rat snake, raccoon, bobcat, and white-tailed deer. The panther is an endangered species that uses the pinelands
as it's habitat.