Florida Swamps

April 01, 2019  •  51 Comments

Bladderwort PanoramaBladderwort Panorama Bladderwort Panorama

I'd seen Little Floating Bladderwort - Utricularia radiata - in bloom before, but never blanketing such large swaths of the swamp.  The sun was setting behind the cypress as thousands of yellow blossoms hovered 8 inches above the blackwater, each standing atop a mast anchored by a radiating raft.  The scene was magical.

Swamp Bloom PanoramaSwamp Bloom Panorama BladderwortBladderwort


Florida is home to some amazing wetlands, so I thought I'd share some of my swampy shots (as well as a few denizens who call the swamp home). 

Swamp GemSwamp Gem

There are often surprising hidden gems one might stumble upon while trudging through the swamp, such as an azure spring welling up in the middle of a vast muddy tract, like an oasis in the desert.

Swamp SpringSwamp Spring

Here's one deep in the vast swamp of Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area... a trail-less slog through mud and mosquitoes.

Trying not to get lost

Bluestripe Ribbon SnakeBluestripe Ribbon SnakeChassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, FL.

Bluestripe Ribbon Snake



Leon County is home to some beautiful wetlands - both around Lake Bradford and Lake Lafayette - where I've loved paddling and exploring for more than 30 years. 

Lily Among CypressLily Among CypressLake Bradford paddle

Lily Among Cypress

Fall Cypress PanoramaFall Cypress Panorama Fall Cypress Panorama

Textures of the SwampTextures of the SwampDried Dog Fennel and Spanish Moss laden Cypress Trees at Lake Bradford.

Dead Dog Fennel

Macro Work in the SwampMacro Work in the SwampNature photographer at work.

Standing in a canoe while concentrating on not tipping over AND getting the spider in focus was challenging. But here's what I got...

Swamp WebSwamp WebLake Bradford paddle with John Moran

Swamp Web

Once after a drought - when the "swamp" had been a dry sandy hike - the flood plain filled quickly after a tropical storm.  Crystal and I came upon an unusual sight... the colony of a flooded fire ant nest had clambered to "high ground" - a cypress knee - to survive.

Fire Ant Island 3Fire Ant Island 3Lake Cascade after TS Fay with Crystal

Don't touch

Fire Ant Island 2Fire Ant Island 2

Swarming Swamp Knee

We found another less fortunate, but more innovative fire ant colony that relied on collective buoyancy and created its own floating island.

Fire Ant IslandFire Ant IslandFloodwaters call for desperate measures. By clinging to each other, the fire ant colony creates a floating island. Apalachicola National Forest, FL

Fire Ant Island

Cascade Cypress SwampCascade Cypress Swamp

Pollen AbstractPollen AbstractLake Cascade after TS Fay with Crystal Pollen Abstract

Cracked Cypress OilCracked Cypress Oil

Cracked Cypress Oil (Actually, the natural source of the oil is controversial.)

Swamp TrailSwamp Trail

Swamp Trail

Wakulla County, not to be outdone, has more than its share of swamps.  St Marks National Wildlife Refuge manages multiple wetlands, each uniquely beautiful.

St Marks Fall FogSt Marks Fall Fog

St Marks Fall Fog

Marsh MallowMarsh Mallow

Marsh Mallow. Native relative to the hibiscus

And if you look closely...

Mallow Frog 2Mallow Frog 2

Mallow Frog

In the LimelightIn the LimelightPine Woods Treefrog. St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

In the Limelight

Tupelo LightTupelo Light

Tupelo Light

Double SunDouble Sun

Double Sun

Pearled Web 2Pearled Web 2

Pearled Web

Swamp FogSwamp Fog

St Marks Swamp

Not far to the east, we have the Lower Wacissa River that flows into the dreaded Braided Swamp, which is actually really beautiful, even if it's easy to get lost in it.

Braided SwampBraided Swamp

Braided Swamp

Young Denizen 3Young Denizen 3

Young Denizen 3

White Ibis PerchWhite Ibis Perch

White Ibis Perch

Spider LiliesSpider Lilies

Spider Lilies

Lower Wacissa Paddling B&WLower Wacissa Paddling B&W

Lower Wacissa - in Infrared

Angelic Little DevilAngelic Little Devil

Angelic Little Devil

Lunch Stop on Wacissa 2Lunch Stop on Wacissa 2

Lunch Stop. No dry picnic spots on the Lower Wacissa.

And further west in the Panhandle, you come to the floodplains and tributariess of the Apalachicola River...

Owl Creek TunnelOwl Creek Tunnel

Owl Creek Tunnel

Devon CreekDevon Creek

Devon Creek

Devon Creek TunnelDevon Creek Tunnel

Devon Creek Tunnel

Twisted CypressTwisted Cypresshttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Twisted Cypress


Chipola Floodplain IIChipola Floodplain II

Chipola Floodplain 2

Cypress & TupeloCypress & Tupelohttp://www.davidmoynahan.com/blog/2013/12/portrait-of-a-river-project---success

Cypress & Tupelo

Deadfall SwampDeadfall Swamp

Deadfall Swamp. Chipola floodplain.

Swamp UnfurlingSwamp Unfurling

Swamp Unfurling

Chipola Floodplain 1Chipola Floodplain 1

Chipola Floodplain 1

One cannot speak of Florida swamps without including The Swamp, itself - the Everglades.  Here's a very small sampling of its vast beauty.

Guzmania SloughGuzmania SloughFakahatchee Strand, FL

Guzmania Slough - Fakahatchee Strand

Cypress PanoramaCypress Panorama

Cypress Dome Panorama - Everglades National Park

Butterfly Orchid SceneButterfly Orchid Scene

Butterfly Orchid - ENP

Roseate FlightRoseate Flight

Roseate Flyover

Underwater Cypress SwampUnderwater Cypress Swamp

Underwater in the Cypress Dome - ENP

Alligator FlagAlligator Flag

Alligator Flag - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Swamp KingSwamp KingA curious Cottonmouth came over to check me out while I was slogging through his territory. Fakahatchee Strand, FL.

Swamp King - Fakahatchee Strand

Magical Moonlight PaddleMagical Moonlight Paddle

Magical Moonlight Paddle - Turner River Mangrove Tunnel

That last one is a story unto itself, but I'll just say, making it was a late night harrowing adventure for two foolish photographers (collaboration with John Moran) deep in the Everglades.  I expect you are waterlogged, or at least bleary-eyed by now, so I'll stop (having skipped way too many places and photos).  Thanks for  visiting. Please leave a quick comment below, and share the link widely.

SwamplandSwamplandFakahatchee Strand, FL



SO many spectacular views and perspectives of the magic of swamps! I love the diversity of your photos and getting to share in what your wonderful eye sees and captures. I didn't see the halo over the little gator until I read the caption - fabulous work all!!
Awesome shots...Just beautiful...an experience I will never be able to see due to fright...Thank you for you vision...
Shirley Claypool(non-registered)
What a beautiful world we live in. I would never be brave enough to go there myself so thank you for the photos of such an extraordinary place.
Vic Gilbert(non-registered)
Absolutely wonderful photos of unique locations that most of us have never seen up close, especially myself who has lived in Florida since 1979. Thank you!
Tressa Dishman(non-registered)
Thanks for your patience in locating and photographing these beautiful examples of nature's bounty in Florida. Loved all of them, especially the tiny frog in the flower!
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