florida-everglades

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Whether you love them or hate them, RVs have become synonymous with American vacation culture. But realistically, these cocoons do more to shield us from the surrounding world than anything else.

Frank Hallam Day spent a month in the Florida everglades documenting this phenomenon of using RVs to get close to nature.  

Exploring Nature While Holed Up in an RV

via Lens Culture

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Did You Know: There are more than 400 national parks across the U.S. – from breathtaking landscapes to historical and cultural sites. To help people explore and connect with national parks near them, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation (goparks) launched #FindYourPark.

Check out some of the amazing pics of national parks above and visit findyourpark.com to learn more.

Headlights by PelicanPete
Via Flickr:
Sunset afterglow ~ Blue Hour ~ Florida Everglades U.S.A. Summer 2015 ~ South Florida ~ Palm Beach County, FL (three more photos from ‘this night’ in the comments) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades ******************************************************************************* “Watching the River Flow” - Joe Cocker & Eric Clapton - 1983 www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkyfmPU5t9M ******************************************************************************* “Watching the River Flow” - Rolling Stones www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WvtYgPKlw0&feature=related *******************************************************************************

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Anhingas are simply stunning. I saw this male on my trip to the Everglades National Park last spring, and these are still some of my favorite photos. 

I’ve created a new site for my photography, that I will be using in addition to this one - check it out below!

http://zambellophotography.com/

Robert Chaplin took this great shot from Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.

Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee,  American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.

An international treasure as well -  a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected areas under the Cartagena Treaty.

Help us celebrate World Wetlands Day! Among the world’s most productive environments, wetlands are critically important to freshwater supply, biodiversity, flood control and food production. They’re also places of stunning natural beauty. Photo from the Pa-hay-okee overlook at Everglades National Park in Florida courtesy of Paul Marcellini.

The Ghosts of Florida
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There are ghosts haunting the Florida Everglades. I’m not talking about the metaphysical kind either. The ghosts I am talking about come in the form of a plant. A strange, mystical, and beautiful plant at that. Growing amongst things like panthers, snakes, palms, ferns, and more mosquitoes than I care to imagine are these rare and endangered plants which have been made famous by court cases, books, and even a Hollywood movie.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I am talking about the ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii). In what is one of Nicolas Cage’s best onscreen roles (a close second to Raising Arizona), these orchids were made famous the world over. Based on the book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean, the movie takes a lot of creative licenses with the story of these orchids.

Ghosts orchids are epiphytes. In Flordia, upwards of 80% of them can be found growing on the bark of pop ash trees (Fraxinus caroliniana). Finding them can be tricky unless you know what to look for. Ghost orchids belong to a group of orchids that have forgone leaf production. No, they are not parasites like Corallorhiza. Instead, they photosynthesize through their long, ambling roots. Pores along their length allow for gas exchange. For most of the year all you will ever see of a ghost is a tangle of roots growing among the moss and lichen on the bark of a tree. 

When a ghost decides to flower, it is easy to see where all the hype comes from. Large white flowers shoot out from the center of the roots, each one with its own twisted pair of tendrils on the lip, which are said to resemble the ghostly outline of a frog jumping through the air. Each flower is also equipped with a long nectar spur. This along with the white coloration and the fact that each flower is most fragrant at night points to the identity of the ghost orchids sole pollinator, the giant sphinx moth. It has a long proboscis that is exactly the length of that nectar spur. No other organism has what it takes to pollinate a ghost. 

The presence of the ghost orchid in southern Florida has everything to do with water. Predominantly a species of a Caribbean, the ghost orchid cannot handle frost. In the Everglades, ghosts grow in and around topographical features known as sloughs. Sloughs are ditches that are filled with water for most of the year. Because water has a high specific heat, the sloughs keep the surrounding area cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When Florida experienced hard frosts, these sloughs never get below freezing. This means that these regions are essentially tropical. These factors combine to make southern Florida the most northerly spot you will ever see a ghost (and many other plant species) growing in the continental United States. 

Sadly, ghost orchids are not doing so hot in the wild. The habitat they rely upon is disappearing at an alarming rate. If you have been to Florida in the last 100 years you can certainly understand. Over half of the Everglades have been drained and developed since 1900 with plenty more of it degraded beyond any hope of repair. Invasive species run amok for the same reasons that the native plants do so well, crowding out some of Florida’s most unique flora and fauna. 

To add insult to injury, poaching of ghost orchids is serious business. Despite its difficulty in cultivation and the fact that most wild ghosts quickly die in captivity, there are those out there that will still pay insane prices to have a ghost in their collection. Nursery produced specimens are becoming more common, so with time this should alleviate some of that pressure. Still, there is no end to the senseless greed of some orchid fanatics. 

There is hope on the horizon. Researchers are starting to unlock some of the secret to ghost orchid reproduction. Plants are now being grown from seed in specialized labs. In time, this new generation of ghost orchids will be planted back into southern Florida in hopes of increasing population sizes. 

Photo Credits: Big Cypress National Preserve

Further Reading:
http://bit.ly/24NiqT9

http://bit.ly/1XTqh38

http://bit.ly/21jegSg

http://bit.ly/1PZlKJu

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Ibrahim Cetindemir
Williston, ND
Nikon D3

What is your favourite thing about photographing the phenomenal skies? 

Since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with the stars. The vast infinity of the universe has always allured me. One of my favorite aspects of photographing the night sky is the simple fact that I get to see and enjoy some unique sights, I often set set my camera to capture a long exposure and while that is happening, I lay down and watch the skies; it truly gives me a sense of peace and meaning.

What has been your favourite places to capture these beauties?

My quest for the right shots has taken me to quite a few places throughout the the United States, but the one that sticks out to me the most has been Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas is basically an island 70 miles off Key West in Florida, that distance shields the park from all light pollution plus you don’t have any mountains or trees to block your view. It was magical, the stars were so bright that you could almost reach out and touch them.

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Website: @ibraphotog

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Everglades National Park in Florida is a subtle place where earth, water and sky blend in a low green landscape – where mere inches of elevation produce distinct changes in vegetation and a great wealth of birds and other unique wildlife find refuge. One of the most environmentally significant regions in the world, this special park can also impress with its sublime beauty. Sunset photo courtesy of Aryeh Nirenberg.