I live in north Florida and my home is built next to a very old sinkhole which is a part of the watershed and drainage for my area. The water drains into the aquifer and also runs off into a creek system. This particular sinkhole appears to be fairly shallow to the eye, but is currently filled with a lot of water due to the torrential rains we have been having for the past week. Much of it is also filled with lush vegetation (more than shown in the photos), and is home to many small animals, birds, and occasional deer and coyote. My part of Florida is also home to numerous springs since the aquifer is relatively close to the surface.
Until the 1970s, many people dumped their garbage into sinkholes, thus contributing to the pollution of the aquifer. I know of agricultural areas where oil and pesticides were dumped, and I once bought a piece of rural land that had a sink hole with at least one old truck down it (had it removed). I suppose the attitude of the past was based on ignorance and "out of sight, out of mind."
Since the '70s there have been major penalties levied against those who misused land in this way, and often former owners have been forced to clean up damage done in the past. However, we humans have certainly seemed to try to do our best to destroy our earth.
The pictures below show only a couple of small, open areas of the sinkhole. I would estimate the total area is at least two acres wide and most of it is currently covered with thick vegetation reaching approximately twenty feet high. Much of that will die back once we have a frost.
The terrain and vegetation in north Florida is very different from the south. We are very green with lots of deciduous trees and even an occasional rolling hill.
While I've never seen a gator in this particular sinkhole, there are gators in other bodies of water nearby. Since they are known to change locations, especially during mating season, I wouldn't be surprised to find one floating in the grasses someday. There are also thousands of human "gators" in the area.
I changed the title of this thread to also include other waterways of North Florida.
Below are a few photos taken at Lake Alice on the University of Florida campus. This is a mostly man-made lake, though there is a sinkhole located somewhere. The lake is actually the drain field for most of the campus and it was fairly polluted not too many years ago. It has since been cleaned and the waste water treatment process on campus altered so that now the lake is a wildlife refuge.
The lake is home to numerous alligators and one must keep a careful eye out for the errant gator basking in the sun along one of the pathways.
On this particular day there were no alligators to be seen, but there were quite a few menacing-looking turtles.
A beautiful, old live oak.
The Baughman Center is a lovely meditation center that overlooks the lake. It has become a highly popular site for weddings, and there are often three or four held, one after the other, on any given Saturday.
The last photo of the door to the centre is really lovely.
Crocs / alligators really fill me with dread . I have seen them of course in zoos or in controlled environments and dont have the screaming heebie jeebies; it is more an almost avatistic response when I think about meeting one in the wild.
Thank you, lugg. I'm glad you are enjoying this thread and hope to add more photos soon.
I treat alligators with a very healthy dose of respect. They are very prehistoric creatures and, with a brain the size of a Lima bean, they act purely on instinct. They can climb fences when necessary and can rise up on their four legs and run very fast for short distances. They are particularly dangerous during May/June mating season.
I am very careful when walking around alligator populated areas such as Lake Alice, but I have often seen students who get too close and who don't seem to understand the potential threat. Alligators are particularly dangerous for small animals and young children, as they will lunge after anything they perceive as easy food. They often become less wary of humans if they've been regularly fed. Many visitors to Lake Alice use to toss the gators marshmallows, but I think that practice has been mostly curtailed.
Up until I was a college freshman there was an alligator kept in a concrete pen right in the middle of campus. It was a very sad, seemingly lethargic animal.
Fortunately, she was released to Lake Alice after student protests (we were protesting a lot of things back then).
I am always very wary of alligators when I kayak and do my best to avoid them. I don't kayak much in water where there are numerous gators, but if I happen to come across one (or more!) I give it lots of space.
My gosh, this is a beautiful thread! Thanks for expanding it in order to show us more. The pictures are absolutely wonderful. Love that entryway to the Baughman Center -- a perfect contemporary rendering of a classic style & it fits so well in that environment.
I was peacefully fishing in one of the lagoons in New Orleans' City Park once, when a 7' (at least) alligator suddenly surfaced and rolled. We skedaddled out of there!
I hooked a very small alligator fishing in the bayous once. It was only about a foot and a half long, but my father preferred to cut the line immediately, once I dragged the creature into viewing distance. I fully agreed.
Somewhere I have a photo of me holding a four foot long alligator while attending an event at Silver Springs. That's not something I would typically do, but there were two handlers with it and the mouth was secured so it couldn't bite. No one else was willing, so I gave it a shot. It was heavier than I thought it would be and the skin hide was rough and dry.
It is illegal to possess or kill an alligator in the state of Florida without a special license, but somehow my little brother managed to have two very small (15 - 20 cm?) "pets" he kept in the bathtub for a while "back in the day," and of course they didn't live long. However, i do remember those little things being pretty feisty. If there is a nuisance alligator reported in Florida licensed hunters are sent to capture them. Rarely are the gators ever relocated. Instead, the hunters sell the meat and the hide.
I ordered a new camera with a zoom lens this week (thanks for your help, bixa!) and I have been dying to try it out. I have loved my old point and shoot camera very much. It has served me well, but just doesn't have a zoom and has some other limited capabilities, too. However, I've really had a bit of a time justifying purchasing a new camera just to have a zoom lens.
We have continued to have lots of rain and severe weather since Isaac, but it was fairly dry for awhile this afternoon when I was out running errands in the middle of the city. Since I had my new camera with me I decided to stop at a tiny park on my return trip. The park is just off a very well-traveled four lane city street and not far from two even more heavily traveled boulevards. However, there are many preserved water-ways in town and natural corridors through which there is a lot of animal travel. This little park is a place that's typically deserted, particularly since the mosquitoes are brutal right now thanks to Isaac.
The first thing I saw as I pulled into the limited parking area was a family of Cardinals. This picture was shot through the front windshield of my car.
The park has a little clearing where there is some playground equipment, a small pavilion for picnics, and a trail that leads through the woods. Since the path was very muddy, and I was wearing sandals, I decided to take some photos at the beginning of the path where a natural creek runs under a culvert.
In the area there are many hardwoods, palmettos, and an occasional flowering vine.
During the ten minutes I had been in the park I had started to get a bit of a feel for the settings on my new camera, had switched off automatic because the photos were coming out too dark, and had even given the zoom a try.
Streams such as this are called "seepage streams" because water come from rainfall seeping through forest floor. The water is very clean because the sand acts as a natural filter. The water flows into a bigger creek which later empties into the Floridan aquifer through a big sinkhole several miles away.
Standing next to the railing above, the mosquitoes were really starting to bite and I decided I needed to leave soon. Bites on my arms were starting to itch as I turned around and realized I was being watched.
Had I not just purchased a new camera with a zoom lens, this would be the best picture I could possibly have taken.
Beautiful photos, but what struck me was the brown water. There was a river -- the Wolf River -- where we went to swim a few times when I was little and it had the same brown but clear water. I imagine there is an iron deposit somewhere along the river that causes the hue.
Mossie, one of the things that helped me make the decision to buy the camera was the comment you made to bixa about there being "lots of good cameras out there. Just make a choice and go with it." I'm paraphrasing, but hope you know what I mean. I love my little camera and only wish I had even more opportunities to use it.
This afternoon, two days after our last heavy rain from Isaac, I made a visit to the sinkhole originally reported about at the beginning of this thread. I wanted to see how the area had been affected by a week and a half of heavy rainshowers.
I found the foliage to be even greener in most places, but in others I discovered washouts where water overflowed the downhill side, and wider paths where water rushed into the hole from uphill. I can also report that the mosquitoes are thriving, as are vines and sticky, prickly plants.
This tree is on the high side of the hole on very dry ground.
I didn't see any wildlife (I was on the alert for snakes), but the water is teeming with very noisy bullfrogs. While there didn't seem to be as many birds in the bushes as before, I did get a glimpse of a red tailed hawk flying overhead.
The area shown in the next photo is on the high side of the sinkhole. It was more recently a very narrow, overgrown animal trail leading down into the center of the vegetation. However, it's been widened by the wash of water flooding down the path.
Though it is hard to see the difference in the depth of the next two photos, They were taken on the lowest end where water emptied out of the hole, spilling over a path on the south side. The trail is almost washed out and I suspect that if I had tried to get down there a couple of days ago I would have found the pathway impassible.
More beautiful photos htmb. Your camera zoom is impressive, and what gorgeous photos of the deer.
I was wondering if the feather upright plant that you have a close up of is tamarisk ? It looks similar to a tree I have in my garden, I remember Kimby saying that it can be invasive in US in riparian settings.
And last not least .....what splendidly hideously awful alligators