A high-spirited group left at lunch time on a sojourn to Shark Valley in the Everglades. As we cantered the trail, we viewed mobs of alligators laying along the embankments sunning themselves and enjoying a day out of the wintry water. Once we arrived at our destination, we hopped on the tram for a two-hour guided tour of the ecosystems of the Everglades. The park naturalists actually went barefoot into a body of water to trowel Periphyton from the water as a sensory touch and feel for all passengers aboard the tram. Periphyton is crucial and a fundamental primary food source for small consumers, including fish and invertebrates and also a place to lay their eggs in marshes, wet prairies and sloughs.
As we cruised the valley we came across alligators of all different dimensions as well as offspring just born that mom was not letting out of her view. As we approached a mother lazing with her newborns, a loud hiss was made telling us to back away and since it was on my side of the tram I was very happy they obliged. Once we got to the lookout tower, there were two big alligators on the trail that we actually had to walk past (only 10 feet away). Carmen, our tour guide, explained that their brains are only the size of a jelly bean, they are slower on land than in the water, and they don’t generally bother humans unless they feel there is food source involved. Have to admit my adrenaline was on high with them being in such close proximity.
Tram mate, Netty, was in awe of the numerous Blue-Gray Heron’s we saw, along with Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets, Nighttime Herons, and Anhinga’s. One thing we never saw in Shark Valley were sharks!
Thanks to George for returning us safely and with all our limbs, and Jennifer who prepared our brown bag lunches with the delicious molasses cookies!