Florida’s Dying Natural Wonder
Perhaps we take it for granted that our beautiful homeland will be forever changed because of the effects of modern civilizations. The environment, local animals, plants, and neighboring niches are all being affected by a few factors. The insensitivity of humans towards our fellow living creatures has caused the Everglades to shrink dramatically in the last one hundred years. The health of the everglades has been compromised because we as humans need more space to live on, bigger roads, and adventures on which we embark. In the following paragraphs, I will explain one of the most threatening factors to Florida’s Everglades, habitat loss.
Originally, the Everglades consisted of nearly 8,100 square miles, now, it has been reduced to about 2,300 square miles of which about three-fifths is in set-designated water conservation areas. Two-thirds of the original everglades is the water that falls on one-thirds of the original watershed. In simpler terms, the water in the Everglades is being washed into the ocean at a faster rate than the animal and plant life can adapt to. If this problem continues on the same route it is on, the death toll of animals and plants will reach catastrophic proportions.
Many years ago, the Everglades was much deeper than it is now and the wet season lasted many months. Now, huge amounts of water come in short intervals and are dried up more quickly than it can be replaced due to drainage. Grasses who survive in deep water are being killed rapidly. Due to the death of these grasses, several species of fish have decreased dramatically in number. The loss of these grasses allows the melalueca to dominate these areas as the supreme species of plants. Fourteen animal species in the everglades are endangered and many more are threatened.
The loss of habitat and overcrowding of certain species are disturbing animal population. Since the 1900’s, ninety percent of the bird population has died. In 1988 a serious drought left many animal species homeless and many dead. Food loss due to lack of water killed many plant species. By 1989, only 5,000 bird nests and 15 colonies were present in the watershed of the everglades. In only one year, that number dropped to 1,000 nests. As we all know and love, the food web explains how countless animal and plants are co-dependents of each other and how the domino effect can change each and every one of those species.
Many conservation efforts have been done to save the everglades, yet they have all failed miserably in a feeble attempt to erase the damage cause by the most abundant predator to any species world wide, mankind. The Everglade Agriculture Area has been set up to enrich the soil in the Everglades, hopefully restoring the animal and plant life to the original numbers that they used to be. When the water levels plummet and new nutrients are added, the soil is exposed to large amounts of oxygen. This speeds up the bacterial growth and can further harm plant life. The soil can then turn to fine dust and lower the water level several feet.
Another effort to save the everglades it to kill the melalueca trees, which suck up large quantities of water. Cutting down the trees was first attempted, but that effort further spread the melalueca seeds. Another method was tried, poison. Poisons are being developed to kill small islands of melalueca trees with out harming the neighboring plants. Everyone can agree on one thing, the distribution of melalueca trees in the Everglades by humans is one of the worst ideas to plague the Everglades epidemic.
Overall, vast amounts of money have been spent to save the Everglades. The Clinton administration has donated 1.5 billion dollars on conservation efforts. The 13 billion-dollar tourism industry to the Everglades and the Keys has helped with funds for the Everglades Wildlife Fund and other organizations. On average, the amount of money donated per year to Everglade’s conservation efforts is about 2 billion dollars.
The reason I chose to do this report on the Everglade is because I got an offhand look at how the Everglades is being destroyed slowly. While going on an airboat tour of the Everglades, I saw an alligator, which got its leg cut off from a boat propeller. While this greatly disturbed me, the airboat driver jokingly referred to the alligator as stumpy. I hope that one day, the Everglades wildlife and humans can co-exist.