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.
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).
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.
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 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 Cypress
Fall Cypress Panorama
Dead Dog Fennel
Standing in a canoe while concentrating on not tipping over AND getting the spider in focus was challenging. But here's what I got...
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.
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 Island
Cracked Cypress Oil (Actually, the natural source of the oil is controversial.)
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 Fog
Marsh Mallow. Native relative to the hibiscus
And if you look closely...
In the Limelight
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.
Young Denizen 3
White Ibis Perch
Lower Wacissa - in Infrared
Angelic Little Devil
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 Tunnel
Devon Creek Tunnel
Chipola Floodplain 2
Cypress & Tupelo
Deadfall Swamp. Chipola floodplain.
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 Slough - Fakahatchee Strand
Cypress Dome Panorama - Everglades National Park
Butterfly Orchid - ENP
Underwater in the Cypress Dome - ENP
Alligator Flag - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Swamp King - Fakahatchee Strand
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.