This is the second installment of 12 Things to Experience on an Everglades Airboat Tour which can also be downloaded as a free eBook.
What’s the first thing that pops into most people’s minds when they think of the Florida Everglades?
That’s right…the almighty alligator! When you go on an Airboat tour of the Everglades, there is a good chance you’ll be up close and personal with an alligator in the wild – from a safe distance of course.
Did you know that when you see an alligator, you are basically looking at a dinosaur? These amazing reptiles have been described as “living fossils”, since they have been in existence for 200 million years, beginning in the Mesozoic Era. The alligator, as we see it today, evolved in the Cretaceous period, about 80 million years ago! They have successfully adapted to their ecological niche, and have remained basically unchanged since this time.
In the Florida Everglades, you’ll often see alligators basking in the sun, keeping an eye out for their next big catch. At night you’ll hear their roars echo throughout the swamp.
Alligators are not a creature you want to contend with. A large adult American alligator weighs an average of 800 pounds, and is about 13 feet long. However, they can grow to 14.5 feet long and weigh over 1,000 pounds! The largest alligator ever recorded in Florida was 17 feet 5 inches (according to the Everglades National Park website).
Alligators perform an important function in the Everglades. Studies indicate that they contribute much to the preservation of plant and animal life.
- Alligators love to eat bony-scaled spotted garfish. If the gar population got too high, these fish would eat all of the valuable bass and bream, as well as other game fish.
- Alligators dig basin like holes in areas where the water table fluctuates in the Everglades. These “gator holes” are the deepest pools, so during periods of drought they are the last to dry up and provide a refuge for fish, amphibians and reptiles. Once the drought passes, the life preserved in the “gator holes” can begin to multiply. These holes also supply food and water for birds and mammals.
- As a large reptile, the alligator makes channels through the plant life and thereby slows the processes that transforms a pond into a marsh.
On your airboat tour, you may very well see one or more alligators in their natural habitat. Your captain will keep you at a safe distance, but allow you to be close enough to get a good look and take lots of pictures of these amazing creatures!
Check out our video & photo gallery to see more exciting footage of alligators. If you are ready to see the alligators in person come see us at Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours located in Everglades City. When you tour with Captain Jack’s, you’ll receive a FREE photo holding a baby alligator with your camera! If you would like to learn more about us or if you are ready to book your trip contact us online, call us toll free at 1-800-282-9194, or connect with Captain Jack’s on Facebook.
– Captain Jack