Edit Blog Post
Published: April 19th 2018
Back in Ft. Lauderdale we drop off cruise passengers and pick up another bunch for week 2 of our back-to-back cruise. We take advantage of this layover to head out for an air boat tour in the Everglades. Something we haven’t done and sounds fun.
We board a bus and travel west for about 30 minutes across Florida. There are huge puffy rain laden clouds on the horizon and we heard that there was a terrible storm last night and a tornado even touched down. But…today has dawned bright and clear with stiff breezes and the Everglades were refreshed with 2 inches of rain.
For those of you who might not know, an air boat is a flat bottomed boat with an airplane propeller mounted vertically in the back and driven by a large, loud V8 engine. It is designed to go places where a traditional motor propeller under the water cannot go. We are in the Everglades, a living river flowing north to south in Florida and full of grass, cattails, birds, small mammals, snakes, ducks and every type of wildlife you can think of including deer, panthers, bears and alligators.
This is the “River of Grass”
described in Marjory Stoneman Douglas' book of the same name in 1947.
Today Bob, our captain has us put ear plugs in (the engine will be roaring), as he starts up the propeller and we glide out into the cattails. After a few hundred feet he speeds up and we are skimming over the grass filled water. A little like being in a small hurricane. After 5 minutes or so Bob fishtails the boat and we duck into a waterway about 50 feet across and he slows to a crawl. We are looking for alligators.
There! We spot one, then another and another. Huge greenish eyes and snouts, just sticking up above the water, checking us out. Down the waterway we see a very large alligator swimming across. Yes! This is a great day.
Bob tells us the history of the River of Grass and how the Corp of Engineers thought it was a swamp originally and didn’t realize that it was actually a river. After they dammed it in a few places in Florida some of the vegetation and wildlife began to die out. No one could figure it out. FINALLY, they realized this wasn’t a
swamp but a river, and now they are doing everything in their power to undo the damage.
Bob has been doing these tours a long time and is very knowledgeable. He hates snakes and makes that very clear with some humorous stories on. terrible encounters.
The boat tour is about 30 minutes and we head back to the dock. After a tip for Bob, we head to the “Wildlife Preserve” about 50 paces away. This is a small preserve for wounded animals or those who cannot be kept in private homes anymore. There is a wounded buzzard with one wing, a small coyote that was kept as a pet until found emaciated and uncared for. There are pythons that people had for pets, a bobcat, a jaguar and a couple of cougars that were rescued from people’s homes. These animals have not ever had to fend for themselves in the wild and cannot be set free. They don’t know how to hunt for themselves. We listen to a few lectures which are very interesting, leave a donation and head back to the ship. Extremely interesting and fun day. We’ll try to do this again sometime.
Dave: Was able to get a potato chip fix here ?.
Next port: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Tot: 0.271s; Tpl: 0.011s; cc: 12; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0729s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb