Wild Places

Perico Preserve

— Perico Preserve —
—– Get Outside! —–

A stroll through the Perico Preserve will take you through coastal scrub, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, stands of seagrass, and coastal hammocks. The Perico Preserve is located on what was once 175 acres of fallow farmland, located in Bradenton. Instead of letting the 175-acre site be turned into condos, local officials decided to restore coastal habitat and provide support for wildlife.

Emphasis has been placed on habitat diversity, so the Perico Preserve encompasses several plant communities. Grasses at the Preserve are Florida natives and include several that are common such as Pink Muhly. Others are less common, like Maidencane (Panicum hemitomon). These native grasses attract beneficial insects and make an excellent cover for wildlife. Over 100 species of native plants have been used on this restoration site.

The preserve hosts an assortment of birds as well. Tri-colored Herons, Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, and Great Egrets, are just a few you will observe of over 50 bird species. The area is located on several migratory routes. A rookery in the center of a pond, within a seagrass habitat with bird viewing platforms, allow the public to enjoy seeing the birds without disturbing them.

The Perico Preserve lies next to a neighborhood and extends beyond the houses to a coastal bayou. It was planned for public use and education, so it includes trails, viewing areas, shelters, and educational materials. This is a successful restoration project on Florida’s central Gulf Coast.

Photo credit: Aymee Laurain

#ImagineOurFlorida #IOF #PericoPreserve #GetOutside

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Coquina

Coquina (“co-keen-ah”) is a sedimentary rock consisting of loosely consolidated fragments of both shells and coral. The cemented fragments are generally calcium carbonate or phosphate. The shells and coral are compressed and turned into a mass as rainwater filters through. The rainwater dissolves the shell’s and coral’s calcium carbonate which then glues them together. Coquina forms inshore environments such as marine reefs.

In the Oxford English Dictionary, coquina is a loanword from Spanish meaning “shell-fish” or “cockle” which is a type of bivalve mollusk. The word Coquina was first used as a reference to building stone in 1837 in the book The Territory of Florida by J.L. Williams.

There are many different kinds of shells and coral that can cement together. By identifying the shells or coral you can determine the age of the coquina. Sometimes the coquina may be covered in mud or weathered with age making the identification of the shell and coral difficult and that particular piece may remain a mystery. Many coquina rocks have only been formed in the last few thousand years but others can go back to different periods of time such as the Miocene age (20 million years).

Identifying the coquina and where it’s found is important to local geology. Since Coquina forms inshore environments, either marine or on land, determining the ages of coquina deposits can help reconstruct sea level rise and fall over time.

Florida has large deposits of coquina, and the soft, white rock was ideal for building. Coquina is a very soft building stone and needs to be dried out for a few years before it can be used. The Castillo of San Marcos Fort in Saint Augustine was built of coquina by the Spanish in the late 1600s. When the British attacked the Fort in 1702 during the Siege of Saint Augustine, they fired cannonballs at the Fort which had no effect. The cannonballs kept sinking into the soft coquina. Coquina is used as an ornamental landscape material today.

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Coral Reef

—-Coral Reef—-

Florida is the only state in the continental United States with shallow coral reef near its coast. Coral reefs create specialized habitats that provide shelter,

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Lake Wales Ridge

We all know Florida has some very unique ecosystems. One of the most unique of these ecosystems is The Lake Wales Ridge. The ridge runs about 150 miles along the spine of Central Florida. The city of Lake Wales is located roughly at its center. The highest point of the ridge is Sugarloaf Mountain. At an elevation of 312 feet., this is the highest point in peninsular Florida.

As you can see in the satellite image, the ridge is actually visible from space as a bright white line. This line is caused by the dune sands of this former island chain. That’s right! The Ridge used to be a chain of islands 2 million years ago when the rest of the peninsula was under the raised waters of the ocean.

These ancient dunes and their white, powdery sand, provide a unique habitat for many rare and endangered plants and animals. These plants and animals have evolved to deal with hot conditions and quick draining soil.

Species such as the scrub jay, gopher tortoise, Florida scrub lizard and sand skink make their homes here. Many of the plants have also adapted to the heat and lack of regularly available water. Scrub oaks have thick, curved leaves adapted to conserve water. Yucca, pear cactus and scrub palmetto are all common plants along the ridge.

 

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Saw Grass Lake

Saw Grass Lake in St. Petersburg, Florida. According to the book “Mangroves to Major League: a Timeline of St. Petersburg, Florida” in 1869 cattle ranchers in Pinellas county saw bears and panthers as a threat and began organized efforts to eradicate us from the area. Today, we have better technology such as electric fences that keep us out of areas where there are other animals or vegetables. Did you know if you have a farm you can contact your regional FWC office who can help by loaning electric fencing for a limited amount of time? When you’re done you only need to return the solar panel that powers the fence. Doing this ensures that we don’t become an unwanted guest who gets a bad reputation. We don’t want history to repeat itself, right?

In the meantime, feel free to visit Sawgrass Lake and see local wildlife. You might even be lucky enough to be greeted by my good friend Brutus, the alligator.

#stpetersburgfl #pinellascounty #florida #blackbear #flbear#flblackbear

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Charles Deering Estate

Charles Deering EstateCharles Deering Estate in Miami Florida. This preserve is an excellent place to learn about Florida history. In fact, an old sinkhole revealed some amazing fossils that tell quite a story.

Speaking of stories, have you heard the story of the Florida Spectacle Bear? Tremarctos floridanus lived during the late Pleistocene Epoch. One of the oldest fossils for this bear was found in a sinkhole located on the Charles Deering Estate. These bears are thought to be strictly herbivorous which today’s Florida black bear eats 15% insects and 5% animal carrion. A fossil of the Florida spectacle bear was found at is location and was carbon dated back to 12 million years ago. Their wildlife friends at the time included glyptodonts, mammoths, mastodons, giant sloths, wolves, and the only large mammal to survive, the manatee.

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Goethe State Park

Goethe State ParkThis park is home to one of Florida’s largest Cypress trees, Goethe Giant! You can also see pitcher plant bogs here which are really pretty.

This beautiful forest is also home to little Smokey Jr., a bear cub who was rescued from a wildfire and rehabilitated. One reason this spot was selected for his home is that the bear population in this area has been in trouble. Low genetic diversity is the problem. A long time ago us bears were almost hunted to extinction. That meant very few of us existed in small isolated areas. When bears mate their DNA combines to make all the traits for a cub. DNA is like a set of survival tools. If you have a variety of tools you can be really successful. If your tools are limited it’s very difficult to survive. Creating wildlife corridors and passages helps other bears with more DNA tools to reach the small population in these necks of the woods. Come on out to Goethe and see if you can spot one of us.

#Goethestatepark #Goethegiant #geneticdiversity #flbears #flblackbear #florida

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