Shallow Waters & Mangroves – The Land of Crocodiles & Alligators

Everglades – Swamps of Kissimme River

In 2005, for the first time, I had a chance to see crocodiles and alligators swimming together in the shallow waters of Everglades. This swampy land is situated in Florida in the United States. Everglades hosts over 350 bird and over 1,000 plant and tree species. A place swarmed with reptiles, is an experience which excites and frightens you at the same time.

So now the question begins from what is the difference between an alligator and crocodile? Alligators are in fresh water and crocodiles are in salt water. Did you know that? I didn’t!  However in Florida, in the zone where the salt water meets the fresh water, both can be found. Another distinct feature is that the alligator has a wide U shaped snout and the crocodile has a pointed V shaped snout. So now we are clear about the difference, right? Lets move on to the Everglades swamps and my experience.

Baby Alligator with a U shaped snout

The V shaped snout of a crocodile

Standing on a bridge over looking the thick mangroves and a sea of these reptiles was an inexplicable sight! Overlooking this flimsy bridge was a tributary of Kissimme River with innumerable crocodiles and alligators swimming, lazing and hiding the the eerie mangroves. Since they seemed undisturbed by the presence of a few people watching and fishing at the same time, we got a good view of them. There is this one alligator that intrigued me…he lay like a rock on the bank very close to a guy fishing. And then suddenly slid into the grassy river scaring me! That moment, I was sure that the fisherman was its lunch! I should say that these men who find fish in these dodgy areas are certainly brave!

Lazy Crocodiles

Another very interesting feature of this place were the eerie, dense and mysterious mangroves. I noticed that they were twined thickly into each other and penetrated into the murky water where the fresh and salt water mixed. It seemed that it was almost like a playground or a recreational place for birds and insects. Despite the eeriness, it was strangely lively. I was told that in the dry months birds and smaller animals congregate here to feed and nest since the larger animals cannot break in through. They also protect during the common storm surge of hurricanes. Apart from that, I didn’t know if there were different species of mangroves or just one. It looked like it had a few other colours mixed in them, colours like red, light brown, black and white. I asked the guide and he said that there were two types. The red mangroves identified by their stilt-like roots, and the black and white mangroves which thrive in tidal waters, where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Bipin & I gliding through the eerie swamps of Everglades ( The white & red mangroves are seen here)

White Iron Wood Tree seen in Everglade swamps

A tourist attraction which actually lost value in my eyes were alligator farms. I wondered what they did with alligators since their leather was banned in the country. I was curious and wanted to find out more. So, basically, these  farms are simple an exhibition of Florida reptiles and has became a quintessential Florida attraction. It simply  functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows, research and exhibits. The eggs produced by these animals are exchanged or sold to other farms to increase the number of alligators on their property! The concept of alligator farming didn’t please me but certainly educated me.

Alligator Farm

Just for an experience

The stories of the Everglades kept pouring in until we left Florida. What amused me were stories of alligator trespassing and crossing highways. People told us stories like an alligator was found swimming in their swimming pools. Alligators chilling in their backyards. There is special team of people who catch this wild reptile and release it in their natural habitat. Also, all the way through this swampy land, on roads, are signs of alligator crossing. I found the whole caution signs hilarious yet perilous.

This world of reptiles is some experience. It is a sea of knowledge about these creatures who have a tag of being dangerous and a menace to the society. As a rule, you should exercise caution around any of these reptiles. But quite unlike the impression, these creatures if unprovoked are well-behaved and laze, swim and hunt what is available in the marsh.

Recycle….is it a part of everybodies life?

When people like us re-use and recycle, the world will change, ain’t it? Now you may say that how many times am I going to write about it on my blog…I say..over and over again! This time I shall talk less about how I have recycled and talk more about how a lot of people around me have done the same..in their own little way.

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Kanchan, one of the most creative lady I have ever met in my life runs an apparel business with ethnicity and a deep reflection of our culture in her patterns. It is called Design Kreeda. She not only designs clothing but also works around other imaginative ideas. Lets see her plan on a broken chair she salvaged for a long time. She says ” I love some of my furniture dearly but when it is no more in a usable condition, I cannot throw it. I couldn’t throw my favourite chair away! So I decided to use it differently… I was in my study room, searching for some small note and wanted to buy a pin up board to save them all. I decided to buy a boring pin board. I thought and turned around only to see my poor little broken chair shoved under the cupboard. And volila! This broken chair was converted into a pin board!”

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I don’t know Vasudha but I have seen her work. She seems to be a very imaginative gal with her blog full of beautiful and most importantly doable things! I asked her if she wanted to be a part of my recycle post and she agreed. Thank you so much for sharing your work. Anyway I picked this really nice post on ‘The art of Decoupage‘. She says that she has a chestnut trunk which she thinks is easily 75 years old and sort of damaged. Since she had mastered the art of decoupage, she decided to use it on this trunk as well. Laced with pictures from a calendar, the trunk looked gorgeous and original. This whole makeover took her about 3 days to complete. Using the used was her contribution to the old and new!

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Rutika is my very young friend whom I worked out with. She, I thought was one of the most sensible and nice people from a whole bunch of them. She is also one person who loves experimenting different things. She says that she picks up a lot of fancy liquor bottles. She tries using them as juice bottle or vases. These bottle featured in the post had a lovely shape which inspired her to make use of it for summer juices. Hence, she put up some simple polka dots with cool colours and got a cork of stainless steel and converted it into a bottle for serving juice/water.

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Another inspired and creative buddy of mine Aditi is always up to something. Though a physiotherapist by profession, she enjoys creating new things all the time. Well I think her innovative juices keep her going and she does come up with unusual things like pen stands from corn tins, tissue paper dispenser out of liquor boxes, photo frames out of shirt cardboard etc. She says, “RECYCLE has a synonym called UPCYCLE’ which has always been an intriguing and interesting pass time for me. Now though I refer to it as a pass time it is much more than that. When I recycle stuff, it is usually made of the things which are lying around at home- unnoticed, unseen or under utilized.” The most fascinating thing she made were beads. Can anybody guess what they are made with? They are’PAPER BEADS’!” It is the best way to utilize all the envelops, wrapping papers, pizza menu pamphlets, advertisement pamphlets, old magazines or news papers. She makes fancy necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc from them!

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My architect friend Aloka and her husband bought a new apartment last year.There was a lot of old furniture in it that the earlier family did not take along. She says, as architects they were not enthusiastic about it because it did not meet with our design sensibilities. Moreover, as per our new furniture layout, many fixed pieces were positioned in the wrong place as seen in the first picture. Since they believe in re-using, they decided to re-position and work around things which already existed. And voilà the kiddie room appears larger, the white colour helps it look light and breezy. There are dashes of colour that liven up the space without making it feeling dingy.

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