Myakka River State Park

I spend a lot of time at Myakka River State Park.  It’s located in Sarasota County and is one of the crown jewels in Florida’s magnificent state park system.  I love this place so much that I’ve taken more than 4,000 photographs there, walked or biked most of the available trails and recently, because of our severe drought, I was able to walk a good portion of the river bed.

Look at these two photos.

Taken from the same spot twenty-seven months apart and you can get a good sense of just how bad our drought is here in South Central Florida.

The beauty of the drought has been how accessible it makes portions of the Park that otherwise are simply off-limits because of water or tall grass or both.  Walking below the Park Drive bridge, for example, doesn’t happen every day.

Park Drive Bridge – May 2012

You can literally walk on the river bed where there are hundreds of mussel shells, cracked open by hungry birds.

Mussel shells on dry river bed

And you find dead LongNose Gar, a fearsome looking fish that was no match for the ever-shrinking waters.

Long Nose Gar skeleton near Alligator Point.

There are many skeletons along the river bed. Only heaven knows what they might have been or how they met their demise. In times of high water you never think what is below the surface but it is clearly teeming with life and as that life shrinks away how will the other critters manage?  Yet the same is true on the other side of the scale.   How do birds manage in times of flood when there are no river banks to stand upon and await a meal?  How do they manage in times of drought when all the river banks have gone away and all the aquatic animals have died?  There are no answers.  Life carries on, somehow.  In a “civilized” society we sometimes lose track of the extremes in nature that are occurring just a few miles from our comfortable homes.  I doubt we could do anything to help relieve the stress that Park critters are enduring just now but perhaps we could become more appreciative of our own bounty and the importance of “Waste not, want not.” ❧

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