National Geographic : 1949 Jan
<,nlil 1i, ft ULttII( tlIIKI1'(11 . inll il l ;\ t(llIl!oll ICly Daydreaming Alligator, and His Watery Image, Keeps an Eye Half-cocked for Danger Spaniards named him el lagarto, the lizard; Seminoles call him allapattah, and eat his tail flesh. Hide hunters, aiming guns at torch-reflecting eyes, almost exterminated the Florida gator (page 94). Crocodilians may often be "grunted up," or called, by making a deep guttural sound like the croaking of a frog. Some hooked in their dens, "walked" out, and bridled-are taken alive. disastrous hurricane of 1935 which almost wiped out the Florida Bay section of their range. Carefully protected, the great white herons are now approaching their original numbers. Across Florida Bay, along the Gulf of Mexico, lie the sparkling wilderness beaches of Cape Sable, where giant loggerhead turtles come out to nest each summer. Back of the coconut palms along the beaches stretch a hurricane-ravaged mangrove swamp, a lake, and a broad series of salt marshes and ponds where white pelicans (page 99), waterfowl, shore birds, some three hundred roseate spoon bills, and other birds rest and feed. Part of this area is connected by road with Coot Bay Ranger Station and the "outside world" of Homestead and Miami-in dry weather! The beaches can be reached only by boat. Where the Tall Mangroves Grow Farther along the Gulf Coast is Ponce de Leon Bay, the mouth of Shark River and boatway to Whitewater Bay. Mangrove trees grow tall here-red mangrove, white man grove, black mangrove, and some buttonwood - perhaps taller than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Fast becoming known as the "giant man grove forest," the trees form a solid wall along the Gulf for about twelve miles. Gradually they become smaller as one ap proaches the commercial fishermen's snug cabins at the mouth of Lostmans River. Eastern brown pelicans and man-o'-war birds (page 92) are common sights along this mangrove coast. Pelicans raise a spray as they dive into a school of fish; the man-o'-war birds effortlessly soar above, swooping occa sionally to pick up fish while on the wing. Gradually, the coastline begins to become dissected by a series of interlocking mangrove keys known (correctly, too) as the Ten Thou sand Islands. Here thousands of white ibis come to roost at Duck Rock during summer months. Flocks of a thousand or more circling high in air are a wonderful sight, the bright flash of red feet and red bill against snow-white body visible at great distances. Some of the passes through the islands are poorly marked, and an inexperienced boatman who tries them is bound to spend several hours trying to work his way off a marl bank. However, the main channel at Indian Key Pass is well marked. Once through the islands, a broad bay opens-Chokoloskee Bay-with an ancient Indian shell mound island by the same name in it. The island supports a thriving com mercial fishing hamlet which can be reached only by boat. Beyond, the dredged channel and winding Barron River lead to the picturesque little town of Everglades. It was in this romantic setting that Everglades National Park was dedicated on December 6, 1947, by the Presi dent of the United States.