Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Shark Valley in Everglades National Park is hardly a valley, unless we consider that it's the land through which the Shark River flows. For that matter, the Shark River isn't what we normally think of as a river. The hills that define this valley are measured in inches and the river is more of a slough than a river. Shark Valley is in the northern Everglades National Park and is accessible by foot, bicycle or a tram provided by the park service along a loop road from U.S. Highway 41. During wet years, some of the loop road may be flooded. Wading birds abound along the loop road and Shark Valley is place to find a purple gallinule, a chicken-like bird that makes its living by walking, wading and swimming among emergent vegetation in search of insects and other tiny creatures. True to its name, the purple gallinule has spectacular purple plumage. But the real view is from atop the 65-foot observation tower at road's end. The panorama from this tower provides instant meaning for the Everglades description as 'The River of Grass'.
'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.