The Everglades is a vast watershed that has historically extended from Lake Okeechobee 100 miles south to Florida Bay (around a third of the southern Florida peninsula). The Greater Everglades Watershed refers to the interconnected ecosystems of water, land and climate spanning nearly 18,000 square miles. This is a large, diverse and complex region including 16 counties, from Orlando in the north to the Florida Keys. This system supports mangrove forests, nursery and nesting conditions for many species of birds, fish and invertebrates, and sustains seagrasses and aquatic life. This ecosystem also provides the drinking water supply for nearly 8 million Floridians.
The Everglades includes freshwater marshes and swamps, rivers sloughs and springs, hardwood forests and hammocks, pine flatwoods and rock land, scrub, sandhills, prairies and savannas, mangrove swamps, lagoons, estuaries, and bays. These ecological systems are always changing due to environmental factors ranging from geologic elements, climate, water levels, and the frequency and severity of storms and fire. These fluctuations help sustain and transform flora and fauna of these fragile yet resilient ecosystems.
Few places are as biologically rich as the Everglades ecosystem, which hosts a vast array of plants and animals adapted to a wet, subtropical environment. Nearly 45 species of mammals, hundreds of fish species, and thousands of invertebrates inhabit the Everglades and related bays, coastal estuarine, and offshore areas. More than 50 kinds of reptiles and 20 types of salamanders, frogs and toads live in the watershed. An astonishing 350 species of birds have been recorded sharing a home with alligators and the black bear. Sadly, 75 species are on the decline including Endangered species such as the Florida panther, wood stork and West Indian manatee. The mix of salt and freshwater makes it the only place on Earth where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side.
The Everglades is in peril, that affects the flora and fauna that rely on the Everglades and it affects the drinking water for over 8 million Floridians. Learn more about the issues the Everglades face and how you can help.