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corkscrew swamp sanctuary

Map of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Map showing location of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is located northeast of Naples, Florida. It is owned and operated by the National Audubon Society. The Sanctuary’s 11,000 acres are within the Big Cypress Swamp and they contain the country’s largest remaining stand of 400 to 700 year-old virgin bald cypresses.

A two-mile long boardwalk passes through the sanctuary and through distinct environmental areas including pinelands, freshwater marshes and wet prairie, cypress swamps and hardwood hammocks.

The Sanctuary is the largest remaining breeding ground for the endangered wood stork. Low, winter water levels with fish laden water holes signal the storks to begin nesting as they now have enough food to raise their young. When water management practices delay the winter drying season, the storks begin nesting later thus when the spring rains disperse the fish, the storks prematurely abandon their nests and young.

For more information, please visit the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary virtual nature walk.

Walk with us along the two-mile long boardwalk with us and experience the tranquility of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken December, 1999]

Welcome to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary!
Photo of entrance to corkscrew
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Upon entering the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, a dirt path guides you through the relatively dry and sandy soils of pinelands. From the path we saw slash pines and sabal palms and a lush understory of saw palmetto and flowering plants.

Plants that grow in the pinelands must be resistant to fire as areas such as these are maintained by fire. The fires are beneficial to the pines as young pine seedlings require lots of sunlight to survive, and the fires destroy hardwood competitors. When fires occur, hardwood seedlings and other understory plants are affected, while the thick bark of the pine resists fire damage. Without fires, hardwoods would eventually overshadow the pines and a hardwood hammock would emerge.

IPIX - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Pinelands  
Navigate around this 360° view from a path through pinelands of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Note the fire resistant vegetation of slash pine and sabal palm trees and the (predominant) saw palmetto understory. As you look upwards, you'll be able to see another beautiful blue Florida sky.   IPIX image of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

Oh deer!
photo of a deer
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From Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s boardwalk, we spotted this male, white-tailed deer that had recently lost an antler, foraging in the wet prairie. The deer seemed accustomed to visitors and traveled along the boardwalk a ways, pausing occasionally to nibble on a snack. photo of a deer in the brush
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Down the boardwalk....
A look at the elevated boardwalk of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, surrounded by wet prairie to the left and right and pond cypress in the distance.

Pond cypresses are smaller than bald cypresses, and they usually grow in the more open wetland area.

photo of boardwalk
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IPIX - Cypress Swamp Boardwalk  
Navigate around this 360° view of the elevated boardwalk of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary surrounded by cypress swamp. Cypress trees commonly have buttressed bases and cypress "knees" that protrude out of the water. The knees are thought to aid the roots by providing oxygen to the often-waterlogged cypress.

As we walked beneath the towering cypress, the sound of barred owls calling to one another resounded throughout the swamp. The barred owl, named for the "bars" running across its chest and body, has a familiar call that sounds like someone saying "who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all". The barred owl is a mostly nocturnal hunter whose prey can include small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, crayfish and some small birds.

  IPIX image of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary - Boardwalk
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

This little figgy went to....
photo looking down the boardwalk
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Strangler fig roots are seen wrapped around the trunks of host trees throughout the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. While they may look like vines here, strangler figs are trees that begin growth from a dispersed seed. Strangler figs grow above the canopy of their host tree and send aerial roots down to the ground. In many cases, the strangler fig will engulf and kill the host tree.

Here, a large bald cypress tree and strangler fig are co-existing. Bald cypresses were given the name "bald" because the trees shed their needles during the winter.

Blue heron
A little blue heron posing on top of the Corkscrew Sanctuary boardwalk banister with the cypress swamp understory. Adult little blue herons are dark blue and have a bluish beak with a black tip, while immature little blue herons are completely white. Little blue herons are common in freshwater areas. photo of a heron
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IPIX - Lettuce Lake  
Aquatic water lettuce plants blanket the appropriately named "Lettuce Lakes" of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Egrets and little blue herons were observed walking atop the lettuce, foraging in the plant’s vast roots that provide shelter for small fish and crayfish.   IPIX image of Lettuce Lakes at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  


Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications for studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
This page is: http://sflwww.er.usgs.gov /virtual_tour/corkscrew/index.html
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Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)