Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The Florida peninsula stands out like a finger pointing towards the Caribbean. More than two-thirds down that finger is the third largest body of fresh water completely within the boundaries of the United States: Lake Okeechobee. The lake is so big that it's clearly visible from space. The name 'Okeechobee' is Native American, and appropriately, it translates to modern English as 'big waters'. While large in extent, Lake Okeechobee is shallow, less than twenty feet deep at its deepest and often less than a foot deep for great distances. While most Florida lakes originate as the limestone beneath them has eroded away, Lake Okeechobee has a different origin. Geologists suspect that it was a depression on the seafloor that remained as the seafloor rose to become land during a previous geological era. The major source of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee is the Kissimmee River, and marshes along its floodplain. Prior to human intervention, it spilled over along its entire southern edge, providing a sheet-like flow of water spreading out across and sustaining the flat sawgrass prairies. Lake Okeechobee is a major source of water for the Everglades.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.