Florida’s unique Everglades environment is home to more than 300 species of fish, 40 different mammal species, and 50 cold-blooded reptile species. The two million acres consist of saw-grass marshes, mangrove forests, and hardwood hammocks dominated by wetlands. When thinking of the Everglades, most people think of alligators, snakes, and endangered species like the Florida Panther, but with so many different terrains, there are a variety of animals that call Florida home.
In the wetlands of the Everglades, mammals like bottlenose dolphins, Florida manatees, and river otters thrive in freshwater, saltwater, or brackish water. On the blog, we’re diving into aquatic mammals that can be found in the Florida Everglades.
These marine mammals are around 10 to 14 feet long with a streamlined body and a large fin at the top of their back. Their skin is gray and smooth without long hair like most mammals. They can be caught swimming off the coast and in the saltwater of the Everglades. Bottlenose dolphins have strong senses allowing them to socialize, sympathize and strategize, deeming them the smartest aquatic animal to live throughout the Everglades.
West Indian Manatees
Known as the “sea cow,” these 1,500- to 1,800-pound mammals are found in warm waters throughout the coast of Florida. Manatees gained the nickname “sea cow” because of their large size and how they “graze” around, feeding on vegetation in the water. Despite their build, West Indian manatees are graceful swimmers and usually cruise at five mph, but in short bursts, manatees can swim up to 15 mph!
A semiaquatic mammal that spends the majority of its day in the water, river otters retire to a den to sleep. Otters may look cute, but their streamlined body design, acute nose and powerful jaws make them efficient and talented hunters. If you’re lucky, you can potentially spot river otters during our Everglades airboat tours as they occasionally can be seen playing, eating or making their way to their den.
Although these mammals call the Everglades home, it's not likely that you will see them frolicking through the fresh waterways of Wild Florida. However, we can assure you that you will see lots of gators, alligator nests, bald eagles, and other fish and wildlife during your skim across Lake Cypress on our U.S. Coast Guard approved airboat tours. At Wild Florida, we believe in educating individuals that wild Florida still exists and inspire them to share what they have learned with others. To learn more about the animals of the Everglades, join us for an animal encounter, take an airboat tour or stroll around our Gator Park!