Andrew Wilkinson M.S.
14 March 2012
SouthWest Florida’s Wetland Wilderness: Big Cypress and the Ten Thousand Islands Jeff Ripple’s extremely detailed book dives into the complex eco-systems of Big Cypress Swamp and the Ten Thousand Islands and extensively describes the plants and animals that live in these areas. Ripple leaves no stone unturned as he tells of the eco-systems that exist within these amazing subtropical watersheds. The book takes each eco-system and does an excellent job of describing what composes each one. For Example, Big Cypress holds many marshes, a low lying section of land that is often flooded, which are home to birds such as wood storks, Ibis, and great egrets as well …show more content…
Fresh water coming from Big Cypress Swamp combines with the Salt water in the Gulf of Mexico to create conditions that allow an amazing variety of life to flourish in features such as oyster bars, mangrove islands, tidal mud flats, and seagrass beds. While tidal mud flats and sea grass beds are important features the most prominent are the Oyster bars and Mangrove Islands. The Oyster bars and Mangroves are crucial in creating and continuing to develop the islands and characteristics that make up this region. Oyster Bars are formed by quartz sand carried by the current and deposited in deeper water parallel to the shore and eventually builds until it reaches the surface. If the conditions are right oysters colonize the sand deposits and the combination of oysters and sand create an oyster bar. Oyster bars gather nutrients by forming at right angles to tidal currents in order to catch nutrients from the incoming currents. Smaller branches form on the Oyster Bars and floating red mangrove seeds take hold in the sediments. Eventually multiple mangroves are caught and grow on the Oyster bar forming an island of roots and leaves. Overtime the mangroves arching prop roots will catch more sediment and the island will continue to develop eventually cutting off nutrients to the Oyster bar by restricting the currents that bring nutrients to the oysters. These structures help protect the region during storms, prevent erosion, and create Habitats for birds and fish. This is why more than 300 species of bird at some point are residents of the region as well as manatees and bottle-nose