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An Intern in the Everglades

shark bay chickee florida everglades

There is no place quite like the Florida everglades.  Growing up in Rockland County NY I got to experience a wide variety of natural areas and have paddled in some pretty cool spots but none have lived up to paddling through the Florida Everglades.  The diverse amount of wildlife from birds to fish and even pythons I have never seen more wildlife then my trip to Shark Pointe.  In April of 2014 during my internship experience for SUNY Cortland, Ryan Sullivan and myself paddled from West Lake through the Lungs down to Alligator Creek where a potential campsite is located.  We were informed by the ranger at Flamingo that we could camp there but we may hear gators at night due to it being nesting season.  This being said we decided to extend our trip a few miles and paddle out to a two story chickee  in the middle of the bay right off the coast of Shark Pointe.  Within seconds of getting out of our kayaks after a 15 mile paddle we had a black tip shark swim right up.  Throughout the rest of the overnight we saw countless horseshoe crabs and a wide variety of birds.  At night as we shined our flashlights into the water the shrimp would come out and along the beaches of surrounding areas you could see the sea crocodile  eyes staring back at you.  This has been one of the few places I have ever been to where there is almost no light pollution  and the stars and sky are truly unbelievable.  The next morning I have never seen more mosquitoes  in my entire life, packing up camp and getting ready to head home was pretty brutal but one of the highlights of my trip would easily make me forget about the bug filled morning I had earlier experienced.  During my first trip to the everglades I was really pumped to see a gator have only seen a few throughout my life in the wild and no really big ones.  After paddling through the mangrove lakes for a few miles we finally think we have spotted a decent sized gator head in the water and decide to get a closer look.  However as we inch closer and closer we soon discover that this is no gator and in fact is a pretty large python. By far this was the highlight of my trip and my childhood excitement gave me energy throughout the res of our journey home.  After we packed up the kayaks and got ready for our ride home we ended our trip with gator tacos, so while I didn’t see a gator during my trip a I did get to eat one.  This is a great one night two day trip that I would recommend for anybody to take, one of the most unique experiences of my life.

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