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More than just a Rock
Introducing Rock E

You know the old expression:

“If the walls could talk.”

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

In the Everglades, the same applies to the rocks, but with a twist: Even when people notice them they are just as quickly ignored. The reason? It probably has something to do with all the other sights — wading birds, alligators, flowers … the list goes on. Also factoring in is the flatness of the landscape and the fact that most of the underlying rock is covered with water or a layer of peat. Another knock against Everglades rocks: There are really no scenic outcrops or dramatic geologic outlooks.

I’m not saying you have to forget that other stuff, but we can’t forget that the underlying limestone forms the foundation of it all. And rocks, believe it or not, are a lot more charismatic than you think.

And if you don’t believe me, watch the above video and listen to what “Rock E” has to say. I think you’ll be impressed.

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Favorite structure?
Or is the best structure no structure at all?

For people that love nature …

We usually think rather dimly of concrete water works.

So the sentiment goes: If only they weren’t built, nature would be better off. Working in the background is also the understanding that control of water is a necessity of the modern world and the idea that it might just be okay so long as nature gets its fair share of the water, too.

With that in mind, can you guess my favorite water management structure in the Everglades?

a. S-79 WP Franklin Dam and Lock

b. Kissimmee River S-65E

c. Lostmans Slough S-12A

d. Hoover Dam on the Colorado River

e. Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake O

Click here to view the answer.

Go Hydrology Extras:

(1) Videos flying over the Big Cypress during high water: (a) Optical Illusion Swamp and (b) an aerial tour of the Western Big Cypress.

(2) An in-depth paper on the ideal stage for Lake Okeechobee

(3) A narrated photo gallery of the Big Cypress during high water season.

And as always, thanks for stopping by!

P.S. Please share with a friend!

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Neither slough nor strand
Mullet Slough is it's own special case

Oftentimes our available terms

Don’t quite fit the natural systems we try to describe.

Flying at 500 feet towards Mullet Slough

Case in point is the false dichotomy of the swamp’s strands and sloughs. Natural flow ways are one or the other, but not both, right? A little background about the video above: We’re flying from West to East. Although we didn’t make it all the way over the Everglades, you can see the mosaic start to gradually morph from a labyrinth of cypress, pinelands, prairie and hammocks to sea of almost all cypress towards the end.

Had we continued flying East it would have slowly and then suddenly turned into the Everglades River of Grass. It’s an area of the Big Cypress National Preserve known as Mullet Slough. Sloughs usually connote a treeless flow way (i.e. as in Shark River Slough) whereas strands (i.e. Roberts Lakes, Deep Lake, Gator Hook to name a few) are canopied waterways. But Mullet Slough is a special case. Not a wall of tall trees, it’s better characterized as stand of dwarf cypress trees regularly interspersed with cypress domes that point in the direction of flow.

Neither slough or strand, Mullet Slough is a watershed all its own.

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October Flight
Click on a photo to start the narration

Don’t get me wrong:

I love the artwork in museums.

Photos plus an audio tour

But that doesn’t mean I know what I’m looking at. That’s why the audio tour is so essential. Remember when they used to hand you a handheld device or a headset. I’m pretty sure today you just sign up with a code on your iPhone or equivalent. What I like most about the audio tour is that it makes me feel like I’m an insider, and that I’m getting secrets and being clued into little details that I would have otherwise missed.

I‘m not saying my photos are on par with the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum of Art or even Clyde Butcher’s galleries, but every photographer has a story to tell about every photo they take that’s lost with only a simple caption or no explanation at all.

With that being said, if perchance you listen, please drop off your audio devices in the basket before exiting the website. And don’t forget to stop at the museum shop on your way out. Hint: There is no museum site, you’ll have to pretend.

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Ideal Lake Stage
Research paper by William J. Sobczak

When it comes to the environment …

Sometimes our children know best.


The reason? It could be that they’re a little more open minded. Or maybe it has something to do with the idealism of youth. Where our adult minds get clouded with economic drivers, political bents and the sociological inertia of the status quo, children have a much less cluttered view of the world. Obviously, nature is good and water should be clean and whatever the cost, it really all boils down to doing the right thing. That would be a youthful view of things, which begs the question: Why doesn’t the same view prevail for adults.

The above paper about Lake Okeechobee — and specifically the discussion of a new regulation schedule called LOSOM — was written by my son for a high should project his senior year. What I admire about it most is its blend of youthful idealism and adult pragmatism, and his surprise choice at the end. I’ll leave it to you to read it to find out. In the process I think you’ll get a very good history lesson of the Lake.

Great job Willy!