Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The image of a national park is often of beautiful mountains, gigantic trees, or spectacular seascapes. The image of the Everglades, among those who have never visited, is often of a deep, dark swamp. None of these images fits the Everglades; the grandeur of Everglades National Park is in its wildlife and wetlands. Winds churn waves of grasses in a green sea dotted with cypress and alligator holes. Waves are crested, not with wind-blown foam, but with egrets, ibises, and storks riding the wind or plying inches deep water below the grasses for food. Drier sites support tropical hardwood forests. Only inches higher are scattered islands of slash pine. Forests shelter deer, bobcats, an occasional passing Florida panther, and a diversity of songbirds. Tidal influences in the southern Everglades nourish mangroves that provide a perpetual fringe of deep-green. Wood storks, anhingas, and mangrove cuckoos nest here. Mangrove roots hold nutrient-laden water over the land, slow erosion, and provides shelter for myriad fishes and shellfishes.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.