If you’ve been to any of our three trail systems, you know that our conditions are very dry. For some of our regular hikers and walkers, they have seen this most years and know it is part of the life cycle down here. Rainy season brings so much water that we still have wet conditions into November, then, during the dry months, the water levels slowly drop.
This year, the change seems more marked. This has been a very dry season, but most of us are also comparing this year to last year, which was much wetter than normal. For example, Bird Rookery Swamp stayed very wet all through the dry season and this year the levels are very low, and visitors have expressed concern.
Where’s the water? Is everything okay? Are the animals okay?
This is a normal part of the ecosystems here in Southwest Florida, and our plants and animals are more adapted to it than we are. Our executive director, Brenda Brooks, noted that all we are seeing as we walk the trails is a very limited amount of the 60,000 acre CREW Project and animals will travel to where there is water.
And, just because we can’t see the water, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
If you head to Bird Rookery Swamp this week, you’ll notice that, with the low water levels, animals like raccoons, otters and banded water snakes are feasting, preparing for the reduction in food sources as we wait for rainy season to start.
So, while we humans may be very concerned about how this affects the plants and animals we see, it’s important to keep in mind that the plants and animals around us are adapted to this cycle of wet and dry seasons and, when the rains come, the cycle will start all over again.