Oct 18, 2018

Why gators love (and hate) canals

The same canals that whisk water out of the gator's swamp home,

Also serve as the creature's "life support" during dry springs.

Tourists often visit
the swamp to see gators,
frequently in canals.

But how are the gators
doing deeper in the swamp?
Thus raising the question:

Are canals good or bad?

Answer: Filling in and plugging canals helps keep water where it belongs, in the swamp, thus ensuring that gators can not just survive, but thrive, across the entire landscape (not just near roads) and in the process, wallowing out deep water refugia where fish abound and birds roost.

Oct 17, 2018

Dry down begins (early)

Nobody thought going in ...

That last year's epic wet season could repeat itself.

Hydrograph showing water depth in Big Cypress National Preserve relative to its major habitats, historical stats, and last year

True to form, the swamp is a foot lower than mid October a year ago ...

And has been trending down the past few weeks.

No two years in the swamp are alike.

Oct 16, 2018

Autumnal waters

Maybe it was the heat, (i.e. it was sort of hot for mid October),

Or maybe out of envy I wasn't this fish ...

The autumnal hues
of the submerged plant
didn't help!

As seen from Loop Road

Whatever the reason,

I found myself missing the cooler weather of continental fall.

Oct 15, 2018

Relative (versus absolute) hydrology

Years aren't wet or dry in an of themselves,

It's usually how they stack up compared to other years.

Historical calendar chart of wetland water depth in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve, 1991 to present
In that regard, this summer's been notably "less wet" than one year before.

Oct 14, 2018

Trip to the beach

The gulf looked inviting at first
Not so much closer up
Here's to hoping some combination ...

Of oceanographic currents and meteorologic events, 

Helps break the grip of algae blooms that have plagued the gulf coast.

Oct 13, 2018

Beach full of dollars

Florida is famous for its beaches ...

And the economic bounty of dollars they bring.

Sand dollars as seen at Naples Beach

But the tourists come and go.

It's the marine life in the coastal shallows that know it as home.

Here's to hoping their waters clear up soon.

May makes mark

Yes, May marks the start of the wet season,

But its first half is usually quite dry.

Thus it can (usually) never compete with the core summer rainy season months of June, July, August, September and even October when abundant tropical rains can fall.

Mark it a historical first.

May is well on the way of being the rainiest month of 2018.

Oct 12, 2018

Swamp ladder

From highest (top) to lowest (bottom): mesic pines (top), marl prairie, outer edge of a cypress dome, interior pond apple center of a cypress dome, and a refugia pool (bottom).

Oct 11, 2018

When expectations fall short ...

Usually its June or September ...

That ends up being the rainiest month of the wet season.

Chart showing monthly rainfall in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve.  The background gray coloring shows the historical norm and range.

Incredibly, defying normal odds, it was May.

With most of that rain falling in its second half.

That led everyone to anticipate a much wetter wet season than the one we actually got.

Oct 10, 2018

Forward and backward view

Here's a look a the same cypress knees ...

Looking in opposite directions.

Opposing views from
the same cypress knees

The view on the left is looking toward the shallower outside perimeter of the dome. To the right the view is looking into the deep-water center of the dome.

By deep, I mean 2-3 feet deep ...

Not including the gator hole (presumably another few feet deeper).

Either extreme

Same cypress knees
as shown below

Oct 9, 2018

"Never ending" tale of two seasons

A normal year for south Florida ...

Is a tale of two meteorological extremes.

Chart showing rainfall for south Florida in 6-month wet and dry season intervals from 1990 to present.
The 6-month rainy season (May - Oct) reliably plots above 25 inches of cumulative rainfall: last year 30 inches more and this year 13 inches more (so far with a few weeks to go.)  Compare that to the 6-month dry season (Nov-Apr) which reliable plots below the 25-inch line of cumulative rain: the last two year's both around 17 inches below (i.e. for about 7 inches of dry season rain).

Take home point:

Seasonal extremes are south Florida's norm.