National Geographic : 1972 Jan
trips of more than 50 miles to reach the park's Shark River Slough. In a land nor mally covered by several inches of water, only the narrow canal remained (below). At the Anhinga Trail, park rangers pumped 2,500 gallons of fresh water a min ute into the area during the drought. Spread ing wings to dry, an anhinga perches beside its namesake trail (upper right). Droughts pose a survival test for the resourceful alligators, which can no longer find water by digging into the saw grass. This group (lower right) gathers at one of the rare water holes in the park. In two dec ades, Dr. Craighead estimates, poachers and a lowering water table have reduced the alli gator population from two million to 20,000. Aggravating the park's problem, shrink ing wetlands call for ever more sensitive regulation of the vital water supply, and make rapid fluctuations between low and high levels inevitable. Just as low water brings tragedy, too much water inundates bird nesting areas. Only last year, flooding forced park officials to evacuate starving deer to drier ground.