To understand the beauty and unique characteristics of the Florida Everglades ecosystem, one first learns that the Everglades are classified as wetlands. Wetlands are areas of land that remain saturated by water either seasonally or throughout the year. What separates wetlands from rivers and oceans is the ever present abundance of plant life and vegetation.
There are four major types of wetlands:
Swamps are wetlands that are forested. The water found in swamps can be freshwater, saltwater, or a mixture of the two called “brackish.” Swamps are usually found around large rivers, but can also occur along the shores of large lakes.
Marshes are distinguishable from other types of wetlands in that the plant matter found in marshes is of a herbaceous nature rather than a woody nature. While swamps are dominated by trees, marshes are filled with grass, reeds, and other low-growing shrubs.
A bog, also known as a mire, quagmire, or muskeg, is an area of wetland that accumulates peat. Peat is dead plant material and most often consists of mosses. Bogs occur in areas of high acidity and low nutrients and can cover large landscapes many meters deep.
Fens, like bogs, are also a type of mire, but are different in that they are fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater. They usually occur along large lakes or rivers where water levels change seasonally and there are few woody plants or trees.
Everglades airboat rides are an excellent opportunity to witness the different wetland types up close in the Florida Everglades. Airboat tours are educational and fun and will leave your family with lasting memories.