Being the largest lake in the state of Florida, it is only natural that Lake Okeechobee is home to various wildlife – some of which are classified as endangered species. After all, the 730 square miles of freshwater is bound to attract wildlife, right?
Although the Big O, another name for this Florida lake, is quite shallow (with an average depth of 9 feet), a lot of species call it its home. In fact, this is the lake with the most concentration of alligators. At least, this is based on a census done in 2006. According to the article published on NBCNews.com, two airboats were able to count 754 alligators in only 3 hours. Take note that this does not even include the whole lake. It is only is a small section of the Lake Okeechobee. The article reports further that experts expect that more than a million alligators live in Florida – and a lot of them can be found in this lake. While that amount may seem intimidating (and downright scary), we can not confidently say that the alligator is no longer an endangered species.
Beyond the dreaded alligator, this lake is also a popular spot for fishing. Although visitors are allowed to fish, this is carefully regulated by the authorities. If you plan to indulge in this sport while you are visiting Lake Okeechobee, it is encouraged that you follow the rules and regulations surrounding it. For instance, bass that is less than 18 inches should be released back into the water. This is meant to protect the fishing population. Among the fishes thriving in the lake are the largemouth bass and black crappie. Catfish is also a species that dominates this lake. The fishing industry generates a lot of income in this area. According to the data published on MyFWC.com, the year 2000 generated more than $117 million in retail sales. Forage fish is also living in abundance in this lake. Minnows, small bream and shiners thrive in the submerged vegetation in the country.
Apart from the alligators and fishes, the Big O is also home to various bird species. The Okeechobee sanctuaries help protect that various fauna species like Snail Kites, Purple Gallinules, American Bald Eagle, waterfowls and wading birds. Other species living in this lake also includes the mottled duck, burrowing owl, sandhill crane, crested caracara, and grasshopper sparrow. The latter is actually one of the most endangered birds and the sanctuaries in this lake helps to protect it from extinction. This is one of the six sanctuaries in the world that breeds the endangered grasshopper sparrow.
Other species living in this lake includes frogs, turtles and snakes. You may or may not see all of these species but you are bound to see a lot of them when you book an airboat tour. This incredible vessel will allow you to navigate the shallow waters of the Lake Okeechobee to observe these remarkable species in their natural habitat. If anything, this will make your visit all the more rewarding and memorable.
If you are looking for the best airboat tour service in Lake Okeechobee, you can get in touch with Big “O” Tours. We offer an entertaining and informative tour of the lake. We do not only specialize in airboat tours, we also have the option to avail of a more relaxing deck boat tour.
Image courtesy of SouthFloridaBassFishing.com and Audubon.org