Nov 8, 2017

Nov 7, 2017

King of wet seasons, sort of

There used to be a time that, not mater how hard it rained ...

It never measured up to the epic wet season of 1995.

Bar char showing wet season rainfall
totals in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve
from 1970 to present
Not anymore.

At 68 inches it surpassed the old chart topper by 7 inches.


Of course the Summer of 1995 morphed together with the Summer of 1994 because the winter in between never dried down making a continuous two years of wet back to back and thus proving it's never cut and dry with water (no pun intended).

Nov 5, 2017

Jetport Slough?

The area to the west of the L-28 lacks a proper name.

Sometimes it is referred to as simply the Jetport.

Looking West
into Jetport Slough (?)
from above the
L-28 levee
Not because of the 2-mile long airstrip,

But because of the 39 square mile area on the west side of the levee that are still owned by Miami-Dade County, where an airport was planned but never got built.


Until we come up with something better maybe Jetport Slough will have to do.

Nov 4, 2017

"No name" swamp

It always bugs me about this part of the swamp,

It doesn't have a name, a good one at least.

Looking West 
into the Big Cypress
from above the L-28
about 5 miles north
of US41

By default we call it the Jetport (i.e. the 39 square mile tract) or the alternatively "the area between 11 Mile Road and the L-28."  And for good reason: in reviewing the quadrangle map there simply aren't any physiographic names for this area, in part I think because it was slated for an airport that never got built.

In that respect it needs a proper name.


To me it looks a lot like Mullet Slough.

Not surprising since that's where it gets its flow.

Nov 2, 2017

New flood of record?

You know its wet in the swamp ...

When the mesic hammocks get submerged.


Simple cross section
of the Big Cypress ecosystem
color coded to match the historical
calendar below

Unlike the pine islands that get flooded at some point most every year,

Hammocks are high ground that submerges only every couple years at best.

Historical calendar showing the depth
and duration of surface water in Big Cypress
National Preserve, 1991 to present

This year they've been under for over two months.

That's comparable to the swamp's flood of record back in 1995.


Last time the hammocks were flooded at all was a decade ago during the Year of Fay in 2008.


Nov 1, 2017

Every month a rain-maker

It's official:

Rainfall was above average for every month of the wet season, May-Oct.

Monthly rainfall for Big Cypress
National Preserve (blue bars),
compared to the thirty-year
record (gray color coding)

That adds up to a 68 inch wet season total.

Or about 25 inches above normal.


That's a lot of rain.

Cypress tree's last gasp


This tree is a fighter

Oct 31, 2017

Swamps get spooked, too

Are the swamps spooky?

To the uninitiated, “yes."

All Ye Who Enter:
Beware!
And who could blame them, they are wooded, dark, and watery.

Alligators lurk, and panthers too – but those worries are misguided:


The animal you really have to watch out for are water moccasins.

Not that they chase you – they won’t!

Nor do they spook – they don’t!

Can you see the spider?

If not, you'll feel it on your face
when you unwittingly walk
into the web

Rather, it’s because they don’t spook when they hear you that causes the real fright.  If you walk without caution in their path, you could be surprised by a strike when you least expect it.

And yes, that could bite.


There are giant spiders too!

But even worse is a trunk-to-trunk spanning web on your face (and in your hands as you try to remove it after the fact),


Is a spider there too, in my hair or crawling down my neck?

It rarely the case, but the thought certainly spooks!

Craggily pond apple
forests look foreboding
Hollywood-inspired legends of a Swamp Thing and local lore of a Skunk Ape may have you fearing knee-deep cypress forests alone at night the same way Jaws kept you in the knee-deep shallows of breaking saltwater waves in a crowd at the beach with the sun at its peak.


The truth is that humans evolved to fear the swamps.

They are virtually uninhabitable by modern day standards, and efforts to inhabit them quite literally ruin whatever swamp was once there by way of digging, draining, filling, cutting, and building;

The cypress are lovely,
dark and deep ...

Don't get lost!

Not to mention the real Frankensteins of the quagmire – Maleleuca trees, Brazilian Pepper, Old World Climbing Fern, pythons, plus every other invader ...

On the rapidly-spreading list of non-native invasives!


I’m here to tell you it’s not we who should fear the swamps.

They are a misunderstood beauty in need of love instead.


The truth in actuality is quite the opposite:

It’s the swamps that should fear us!

In the right light:
Cypress aren't
so spooky after all!
So tread lightly in a swamp near you, and trust in me whenever you do – by sun or night or nearing twilight – its liquid realm is a beautiful sight, from top to bottom and start to end, it’s silence is the comfort of your oldest friend.

Happy Halloween!

Oct 30, 2017

Tentacle tree

Some say the pond apple
are the swamps spookiest
forest

Where alligators roam

Who says you don't leave tracks in the water?

Here's a case where a gator left a clear trail.

The path not taken
Only I never did see the gator.

Even though it looked like it had recently been there.

As seen earlier in September 

Was it coming or going?

I didn't get any closer to see.

Venemous snake

Watch out: Rattlesnake!

Haunted Hike!

Some trails are better walked in broad daylight ...

And at all costs to be avoided at night.


Day: Strangler fig wrapped around a cypress.

Night: Hand of a giant ghoul squeezing an unsuspecting hiker.



Day: As scary as this tree is in broad daylight I don’t even want to think about what it looks like at night.

Night: See Day.



Day: Spiderwebs inconspicuously placed along the side of the trail.

Night: Giant banana spiders spin webs face high across middle of boardwalk.



Day: Do you see the shadows of giant cypress in the photo? They're the Ghost Trees of the Fakahatchee Past which, clear cut and logged in the 1940s, reappear at the marsh every Halloween for a swamp reunion. Apparently some get there early thus explaining the shadows.

Night: Unknown, I high tailed it out of there while it was still light!