It Was “Swamp” Day At Waycross

· Reading Time: 2 minutes

Don Berryhill of the Okefenokee Swamp Park Staff has spent 50 years working in the Swamp. He started the course forty to forty-five years ago. Leslie Ranew and Catherine Burnham are going to take over the courses soon. Swamp has amphibians that live in the bottom of the Swamp, lakes. They live and eat anything at the bottom. Gators have a vicious bite. The Swamp is succeeded now by filling in of dead plants. Succession consists of plants being replaced. They are connected to the bottom and creates peat which grows root in 50 years. The decay creates CO2 and methane gases. Big chunks of peat float up and go back down to bottom. Some peat islands are 100’s to 1,000’s years old. Scientists in 1838 started studying peat islands. There are 70+ sand islands also. The Okefenokee Park occupies 38,000 acres which was made famous by Lydia Stone. 250,000 years ago a glacier came down and melted and washed sand to the Swamp. There are 12,000 alligators in swamp and are very dangerous. They are born with 25-30 teeth which grow to 78-80. They are not “chewing” teeth but are “holding” teeth which allows swallowing big chunks and rocks. Stomach muscles contract and grinds up whatever is in there. Gators are a threat! The grinding down creates a “soup” which is dispelled in piles. They can float forward and backward very fast and roll after clasping food in teeth. Over the past 250 million years, a comet came to earth 65 million years ago and killed all life except what was down in water, ponds, and lakes allowing them to live. A gator takes 1/2 second to jump for food with 50 other animals