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Flying south
Loop around Loop Road

There’s always lots to see …

On a flight over Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve.

We flew clockwise around Loop Road

On this trip south of Tamiami Trail, we see a swamp mirror (reflecting the clouds), the Pinecrest Chain of Hammocks, Gum Slough, Loop Road, Sweetwater Strand and Gator Hook Strand and Trail.

strands and sloughs

More than one?
And four to be exact

Big Cypress National Preserve has four major watersheds:

(1) Central Preserve, (2) Okaloacoochee Slough, (3) Mullet Slough and (4) the Everglades.

Major watersheds of Big Cypress National Preserve

Within each watershed are major drainages …

Were water is deepest and flows longest.

Those include sloughs and strands.

View of Gator Hook Strand looking southeast towards Roberts Lakes Strand, just downstream of Loop Road which, if you really squint, you can barely make out.

Between the strands are higher lying (but still soggy) marl and dwarf cypress prairie.

birds eye view

Origin of domes
And how geology controls the show

What came first:

The depression or the dome?

Answer: Cypress domes form in shallow surficial depressions in the swamp’s underlying caprock, but that doesn’t explain why some depressions capped by a cypress dome and others, right next door, form a tree-free herbaceous marsh.

It might have something to do with the thickness of the marl.

Cypress dome and circular marsh

Or maybe fire frequency or flooding depth also factors in.

Mark it down as another mystery of the swamp.

Wet boot test
Soggy socks are even a better indicator

There’s basically two ways to know it’s the wet season: (1) You can look at the chart above or (2) go out and see it for yourself. Warning: The second way will probably result in getting your socks wet. Never the greatest feeling. But once you get past the hurdle of full immersion, you almost forget that they are wet at all. About the chart above: The swamp has two solid “wet season” months under its belt, and is working on a third (August). The blue bars show recent monthly rainfall. The horizontal white lines show the long-term average for each month. The “dark gray” and “light gray” bands show the normal and historic range for the month. We had a very dry “dry season,” thus despite the abundant rain, the swamp is a bit slower this year filling up. Final note: To become a true rainfall expert, we highly recommend both the approaches discussed above.

“No name” domes

The swamp’s signature formation, its cypress domes ..

Also strangely lack names.

It might also have something to do with the swamp having too many domes to count

A colleague explained it to me like this:

Unlike cypress strands (i.e. usually named), cypress domes are not the the greatest of landmarks to navigate by from the ground.

That’s as good an explanation as I’ve heard.

Rain re-nourished swamp

It’s been a rainy week in the swamp.

Here’s some scenic photos of those clouds in action.

South of Tamiami Trail
in the vicinity of New River Strand
looking northeast

Near the mouth of Turner River
looking upstream.  If you look closely
you can see the orphaned mile of
Turner River canal that was filled in
in 1996 and helped steer water back
to the river.

Yes, that’s flooded, but it’s not
the “wetting front.”  It’s the line in
the swamp where the Moon Fish
Wildfire stopped, looking east
into the Everglades

The swamp is a flood and fire adapted ecosystem.

So goes flood and fire, so goes the swamp.