Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Speedboating Through the Everglades...and other Unbelievable Americana

Speedboating Through the Everglades

While staying in Florida for three days during our recent Caribbean holiday, we did a tour of the Everglades.  After a very long bus ride from Miami, we ended up in the Everglades and boarded what turned out to be a "speedboat" for a 45 minute water tour.

My illusion (as it turned out) about the Everglades included that it would be a swamp bordered by tall, dense forests of "Mango-type" trees...lots of ferns and wild life....bird songs filling the air. This image was more or less encouraged by the advertisement on the tour brochure..."See alligators and other wildlife in their natural habitat!"  The reality was almost 180% from the illusion.  We were told by our guide that the Everglades is not a swamp but is in fact a slow flowing river...a fact that escaped the early Floridians...who tried in vain to "drain the swamp" back in the 1800's....before realizing it was a flowing river.

I expected a quiet, respectful tour of the home of so much endangered wildlife.  Not so.  There were about 8 or 10 big open speedboats, like the one we rode in the video I shot above.  They were all racing up and down the canals...the big boat engines creating a huge noise and water disturbance.  If there WAS any wildlife in the canals...I thought it would already have beaten a path elsewhere, to avoid the chaos and destruction being caused to the floating reeds, water lilies, etc. by the huge boat props.

In fact, we were shown exactly three smallish alligators who were resting in the reeds at three different points along the tour.  We figured these alligators were probably fed by the guides to attract them to their "appointments" with the tour boats.  We saw two large herons and my partner says he saw some smallish fish in the waters...I looked but saw NO fish.  In other words, what we saw of the Everglades proved to be a virtual wasteland.  Relieved to be off the tour speedboat at the end of the "wild ride" we were shepherded into a small open air theatre, which had a shallow "swimming pool" that was home to about 11 "rescue" alligators.

The "Master of Ceremonies/Alligator trainer" put on a very funny stand-up comedy routine using a big alligator as a "straight man".  As the trainer knelt over the reptile, the large beast hardly moved a fraction of an inch. The glib MC talked to it, petted it, opened its mouth and put his chin in.  I concluded the alligator must have been heavily sedated.  Likewise, the other 10 or so alligators lying about in the shallow water exposed to the relentless sunshine and heat.  To his credit, the MC told us that the alligator and its much more unpredictable and dangerous cousin, the crocodile, were endangered....and he was devoting his life to protecting as many "rescue" alligators as possible.  Well, a good start would be to get rid of the speedboats on the Everglade canals....and showing more respect for the habitat and its residents.

I don't know whether that will ever happen...after the tour I asked some folks what they liked the most...their reply?  The Speed!

Historical Everglades - Map


mike m said...

Next time go to Everglades National Park. We went there a couple of weeks ago and saw alligators, crocodiles, manatees and many more wonderful example of wildlife.

Stay away from the tourist traps.

greencrow said...

Thanks for the tip, Mike M. I doubt I will visit the Everglades again but others might well take heed of your advice. There was a dam near the site of the tour which should have been a tip off to what we were going to find...a virtual wasteland.