Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Wild is Essential

When I am in the Everglades or Biscayne Bay, I think about those individuals that made it possible. For instance, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who was more inclined to meet friends for cocktails to watch a Miami sunset than to wonder into the 'glades (and did not mind admitting to it), saved the Everglades almost single-handedly. I think about the politicians who cared enough to allow bill after bill to be passed until one day, Everglades National Park was created and several decades later on another day, Biscayne National Park began its life.

And so here we are in the middle of a metropolis that constantly struggles between consumption and growth, and preservation of precious wilderness. The bay that casually shoulders up to Miami teeters on the fence, potentially falling one way into destruction. Ignoring the bay and those that know it well because of its sea grasses and the wildlife it supports will be just the nudge needed to push it over the edge. Thank you Lloyd Miller, Juanita Greene and Lancelot Jones for saving Biscayne Bay from doom and making it the only aqautic national park in our country. Thank you Ernest Coe, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and George Melendez Wright for giving us Everglades National Park, the first to be created for the sole sake of saving its diverse wildlife.

Thank you to all those individuals that dedicate themselves to the preservation of our wilderness. Thank you for Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, South Florida National Parks Trust,and Love the Everglades Movement just to name a few.

What got me thinking about all this is what happened this morning on Biscayne Bay. I was paddling along the western shoreline and the low tide was allowing the birds to scatter over a wide range of seagrass. About 1/4 mile away, I noticed two white birds, most likely great white egrets so I thought. Then one took off and flew towards me and landed about 100 feet in front of my boat. It was not a great white egret, it was my albino yellowcrown nightheron.

On May 26, 2012, I discovered the albino bird. I contacted David Sibley who confirmed that it was indeed an albino yellowcrown nightheron. I contacted Biscayne National Park to let them know and that's when I met Ranger Gary Bremen who later allowed me to exhibit my work at the Dante Fascell visitor center earlier this year.

The albino appeared to me after that first encounter, the last time was in June 2013. Since then, I wondered if the bird was still alive. I worried about it, hunting at night with its obvious white feathers. I wondered if it would have the opportunity to reproduce.

When I saw it today, I was so happy it brought tears to my eyes. The albino appears to be healthy and doing well. It's home is the aquatic wilderness of Biscayne Bay, never taken for granted.

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