Thursday, May 24, 2012

Okefenokee National wildlife Refuge

While waiting for our boat trip we spotted this turtle.
We were told that a fire started by lightening in the park last year and did not go out until this year.  The fire burnt for over a year.  The park is over 400,000 acres  and over 300,000 of them burnt   The problem was two fold: 1. they are in a drought, 2. the "soil" is peat which just twigs and leaves and when dry it burnt too.  Well there is another problem in that this is a national park so if a fire starts naturally we just let it burn until nature puts it out.  That is why the park burnt for so long.
You can see that nature is coming back really fast with the green under growth.
These are cypress trees that were burnt, but they are very hardy and are starting to leaf out anyway.
The water way we are traveling on was a canal built back in the day to drain the swamp so the man could sell the land for farms.  It did not work out as planned.  Now the government owns the land and we have a park.
We are now traveling in the part of the park that did not burn.
This is called the swamp prairie.
We say many birds, this is a young night heron,
Gator, we saw a lot of them.
Young white Ibis.
As the peat decays it produces a gas and when it expels from below sometimes chucks of the peat breaks off and floats free.  As it floats it is a great place for trees and other plants to grow.  These are called houses. You can see some "houses" in the distance.  During strong winds these floating houses will move around,
This is how deep the water is we are floating in.  It should be somewhat deeper because they are still experiencing a drought.
Our guide reached down in the peat and pull some up for us.  Rog is hold some that has had all of the water squeezed out of it.  It is just leaves and twigs and is very light weight.  It does not smell, other than of the earth, but no rotting smell. 
The guide figures these are turtle eggs that a raccoon or other such animal dug up for dinner.
This is another of the tour boats like ours.  Notice how wide the canal is. We had a great tour in the swamp.
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