Feb 24, 2009

Dry season bailout

Have you ever turned your head away for a few moments, only to return to see that everything has changed?

That’s exactly what’s happened to me here in the Big Cypress.

Out of nowhere water levels have dropped to the bottom of the barrel.

Preserve wide stage is a solid 8 inches below its normal late February norm, as based on the 15 year average.

All summer we were running above the average.

Fay gave us the big rain day bounty, but one storm does not make a summer wet season. A wet streak in early October had our summer sheetflow lapping up at the shoreline of the mesic pinelands – our high ground – up until the start of the dry season.

In theory, that was our water in the bank for the dry 6 months to come.

No rain and 4 months later water levels have sunk to the last and lowest of our wetland habitats – our pond apple swamp forests.

Now we’re a few inches away from having that summer bounty completely spent!

To be sure we still have some low-water refugia pools. They stay wet even when the swamp apple forests go dry. 

And the canals are still holding water. The visitors love it because it’s easy to view the wildlife, but it’s never a safe mix to have wading birds and gators congregating close to motor traffic.

Our only bailout now is the blue sky above. 

Here’s to hoping blue skies turn gray and a dry-season continental front is on the way.

Otherwise it’s a long (and dry) wait to mid May and the start up of the wet season.

By the way, the photos were taken on Groundhog Day when the wetting front was still flooding up at the edge of the cypress domes. Three weeks later it's a long -- and often fruitless  -- walk into the domes to find water.


kden said...

Those are really amazing shots. I've never seen anything like it. Thanks for sharing your world and expertise.

Guy D said...

I always love your water wednesday posts, this one is no exception.

Have great a day!
Regina In Pictures

Reader Wil said...

Good post Robert!. I hope for you to get rain for I don't like droughts at all.

antigoni said...

I'm sorry to hear that you are out of water. It's something unbelievable for me. When i was in Florida, we had rain everyday. Don't worry. It'll rains soon.

Kathy W said...

I have never seen wetlands before. LOL I would freak if I saw a gator though. Awesome looking photos.

Unknown said...

People usually complain when it's raining, but I for one, love and appreciate it! Within reason of course!
Great pictures :)

Jungle Pete said...

So why the sharp drop off? Do we need to worry about salt water intrusion? How does a continued drought effect the ecosystem? I've noticed Pond Apples struggling the past few years and it concerns me.

CountryDreaming said...

While your current conditions make for some awesome photography, I hope you'll get that much-needed rain soon.

penny said...

I love the cypress trees with all the air plants. I live in Jupiter and we really need rain here too! Everthing is turning brown:( Love your blog, Robert...

Betsy Banks Adams said...

I'm sorry about your drought, Bob. We had horrible drought here in 2007 and part of 2008.. This year, so far, we are running about average.

Hope you get some rain soon.

2sweetnsaxy said...

Love the shots. I sure hope you get your much needed rain. We sure got ours but apparently still are just below where we need to be.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments.

Big Cypress National Preserve is strangely photogenic. I say that because I don't think of the sawgrass plain in the central Everglades as being as easy to photograph, or as captivating ... at least by a novice photographer as myself. It's definitely worth a visit any time of year, but it's best for photos when the cypress needles have fallen, there's lots of blue sky, and we still have water.

Jungle Pete- The swamp apples not looking so good may have something to do with our dry seasons being drier than normal the past couple of years. That shortened hydroperiod may have an effect.

Tarolino said...

Very interesting shots. A strange landscape indeed. What can I say but to whish for some heavy downpour over your way for a few days at least.

Arkansas Patti said...

I too vividly remember the Florida in flames year. Like Nature Nut, you will never hear me complain about rain.

The Birdlady said...

Well, I'll be checking it out tomorrow. Thank you for the tip about Corkscew Swamp - It was wonderful...It just might be my new "favorite place!"

George said...

I didn't realize how dry things have gotten in Florida this season. I hope this doesn't lead to another bad fire season.

jozien said...

Yes, that seems to happen to me all time ( the 'everything changed' thing).
I love the pictures!

Sebastian Anthony said...

I had no idea so much could be written about the Florida wetlands!

I guess they are the only interesting feature of Florida though, and they must contain a truly vast variety of species.

I hope you get some rain soon :)