Welcome to #NotesFromTheRiver! My name is Marcia Meara, and I'm one of those increasingly rare Florida natives, you've heard tell about. (There’s me, and some guy up in the panhandle, I think.) I not only was born here, I’ve lived here just about all of my life, and I’ve spent a good portion of those years hiking and canoeing the woods and rivers of central Florida. Those experiences—combined with several years of volunteer work, back in the day, with both Florida Audubon and the Central Florida Zoo—have given me an undying love of the St. Johns River Basin and all the critters contained within. Except maybe hairy-legged spiders, but that’s a topic for another day!
#NotesFromTheRiver will be a way of sharing some of the beautiful sights and interesting facts I’ve discovered over the years, many while aboard the Naiad. My thanks goes out to Jeanne Bell and Doug Little for asking me to be part of their new blog, and my hope is that this weekly feature will be something everyone can enjoy, no matter their personal level of knowledge or experience about this part of our state.
Florida is famous for many things, some of which have nothing whatsoever to do with our well known tourist areas, as much fun as they may be. Take a cruise on the Naiad and you’ll see for yourself just how rich in beauty the St. Johns River is.
People come from all over the globe to admire and photograph our birds, reptiles, and other unique animals, but out of all our wildlife, nothing is more closely associated with Florida than the American alligator. (Alligator mississippiensis)
Courtship for Florida alligators begins in early April, with mating usually occurring in May or June. From mid-August through September, the yellow and black striped babies start hatching, and begin their perilous journey to adulthood, camouflaged by those very stripes.
Alligators lay their eggs in mounds of vegetation, and the heat from the decaying plant material is what incubates the eggs. Approximately one-third of all nests are ravaged by predators, raccoons chief among them, or destroyed by flooding. Of the clutches that survive those dangers, about 24 hatchlings will emerge alive, but only around 10 of those will survive their first year. Everything eats baby alligators—fish, turtles, egrets and herons, raccoons, and even other alligators!
Of the 10 babies that survive that first year, 8 might make it to 4’ in length to become sub-adults, and of those, only 5 are likely to survive to reach maturity at 6’. That’s 5 out of 24 hatchlings, so you can see that a perilous path does, indeed, lie in front of these babies.
This post is really just a teaser, but I hope it whets your appetite for more. Rest assured, alligators of all ages and sizes will be part of this feature in the weeks ahead, along with birds, manatees, black bears, and many, many other fascinating things seen along the St. Johns River.
Hope you’ll stay tuned to find out what beautiful or interesting subjects we’ll be featuring in next week’s #NotesFromTheRiver. Until then, here’s lookin’ at YOU!
Oh nice to have Marcia as our guide to finding out more about Florida's wildlife. I have enjoyed your books so I am sure I will enjoy this blog and the new revised st. John's River Cruise web Site. My best to you.
Thanks so much, Marie! I'm still learning how this blog works, so I hope this reply ends up under your comments. It's a bit different set up from WordPress. I hope you'll stop by often. I promise I'll try to keep it fun and interesting. And do take a look around the rest of the site. You would love the eco tour, I'm sure.
What a great way to learn about your local wildlife, with glorious pictures for illustration.
Thanks Marcia for sharing your knowledge and your enthusiasm, which shines through your words
Good to see you here, Debby! I have to take a look at the tutorial, because I'm having to answer each comment as a guest and approve MYSELF each time. That can't be right. Hahaha. I do hope you'll enjoy reading the Wednesday Notes From the River posts, though, and maybe it won't take me too long to get the response part figured out. So nice of you to check it out!
The photography is beautiful. I would love to take a river tour firsthand, but for now I will content myself by learning more through Marcia's post. Wishing the very best to all with the new site!
Hi, Mae! Glad to see you here. I'm very much looking forward to sharing the river and its wildlife with readers here, and hope you'll be a regular one. Thanks for your well wishes, and taking the time to stop by today. Give you a hint: next Wednesday's post will feature one of the animals featured here. You want more? Okay. It's the one with feathers! Maybe by then, I won't have to be posting as a guest. Working on that!