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South Florida
   Favorite Places | Wildlife | Activities and Interests

South Florida extends from Lake Okeechobee south to the tip of the peninsula. A hundred years ago most of south Florida was wetlands, and the region was sometimes described as ‘nine-tenths water, one-tenth swamp.’ The topography is flat, and almost all the land in South Florida is less than 8 m (26 feet) above sea level.

South Florida is where most of the state’s population lives, but west of Miami the development stops abruptly. Beyond this line is what remains of the upper Everglades. Sawgrass marshes dotted with occasional clumps of palms stretch to the horizon. Driving across the upper Everglades on a highway known as ‘Alligator Alley’ (I-75), you pass a series of large yellow signs warning ‘Panther Crossing.’ More than 30 underpasses were installed under this highway to allow the Florida Panther to cross under this roadway.

The climate in this region is well and truly tropical; palms, bougainvillea, limes, mangoes, and other tropical plants appear in city gardens, and tree ferns and epiphytes abound. Several important natural areas have been preserved: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and Jonathan Dickenson State Park to name but a few. After driving through Miami you may doubt that south Florida holds anything of interest for the ecotraveller, but we think you will be surprised.



 Favorite Places
  • Jonathan Dickinson State Park
    Mangrove wetlands flank the wide Loxahatchee River, which in 1985 was, designated a ‘National Wild and Scenic River.’ Birds here include Osprey, White Ibis, and Anhinga.
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  • Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
    Birding at Loxahatchee is usually excellent, especially in the winter.
    Wintering waterfowl, especially Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked ducks, Wood Ducks and Fulvous Whistling Ducks concentrate here. You may also see Snail Kites, Black-necked Stilts, Spotted Sandpipers, Anhinga, Limpkins, and ibis.
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  • Everglades National Park
    Everglades National Park is huge. More than 1.5 million acres in area, it is the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the continental US.
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 Activities and Interests



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Wildlife of Florida 2011
Wildlife of Florida 2011
Fiona Sunquist
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Lizards book cover
Wildlife of Florida: Lizards
Fiona Sunquist
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Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

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