Most visitors coming to Florida are attracted by Walt Disney World and the other major theme parks, or are here to enjoy the climate or possibly the golf. Florida has seen massive development over the past few decades with thousands of holiday homes being built, along with shopping malls and restaurants, to support these visitors. However, Florida is a large state and there remains plenty of room for one of Florida’s other main attractions, its wildlife. Although evidence of the state’s wildlife can be found all around us, often in an urban setting, there are a number of dedicated reserves and sanctuaries where wildlife can be seen in its natural state. In this article we cover a few of those ‘best for wildlife’ locations.
Under three hours northwest of Orlando, the constant 70 degree temperature of the water in the rivers headspring, where around 100 million gallons of water bubble up every day, acts as a magnet for West Indian Manatees, which head up river to the source of the river from the cooler Gulf of Mexico. At times the beautiful turquoise water is almost swamped by large numbers of manatees and scuba divers travel from all over the world to swim in the waters alongside the creatures and the other wildlife to be found there.
Everglades National Park
An easy drive south of Miami and you enter another world far removed from the city, in the shape of the 2,500 square miles of everglades teeming with alligators, snakes and insects. The Anhinga Trail is a mile long boardwalk through part of the everglades giving a close up view of some of the local inhabitants, including birdlife.
This nature preserve’s location near Kennedy Space Center has been a blessing as the space program’s security concerns has prevented anything other than space related development, leaving plenty of room for manatees, sea turtles and other wildlife. The refuge spreads over 220 square miles and an easy way to get a feel for the wildlife it contains is to take the Black Point Wildlife Drive, a seven mile long meander bringing you close to a wide variety of wildlife.
We covered Gatorland in another article, but it is a great opportunity to see these creatures close up, albeit in a controlled environment.