Financial and volunteer support to preserve the unique ecology and cultural heritage of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park and to educate the public about its importance.

Fakahatchee swampwalk reflections

A well-disguised gator patrols Fakahatchee strand. (Photo by Quinn Hiaasen)

By Quinn Hiaasen

The Fakahatchee Strand Preserve is a wetland in the Florida Everglades. Recently we had the treat of visiting this wild place. It is one of the most biologically rich places in the United States, and contains many species that are found nowhere else in North America.

I have always loved nature, and being in the middle of it. The silence and serene qualities of the “middle of nowhere” are very intriguing to me. The swamp was quite literally, the “middle of nowhere”. I was blown away by how small you suddenly feel as you walk deeper into the swamp. Its beauty can pull you further and further into it, and before you know it, you are lost in a seemingly endless landscape of marsh.

As a photographer, the Fakahatchee Strand was the most dramatic environment I have ever been in. Light refracts through the water vapor rising off of the saturated marsh floor, casting long shadows behind trees and plants. Fallen cypress stumps display their ancient architecture that has been etched into their wood by hundreds of years of enduring the watery domain. Water droplets cling to the leaves of bromeliads as a morning dew settles on the plant. Ferns and orchids attach themselves to trunks of pond apple trees. Alligators bask beneath a layer of green slime, patiently waiting for their next meal. There seemed to be an endless number of frames to capture, every square foot of the swamp was special in its own way. I soon realized, however, that I had to pace myself and look for the things that you may walk by without even noticing.

It was an incredible trip. I have come away with some amazing photographs, as well as fond memories. Someday I hope to go into this swamp again, and continue to explore more of the 80,000 acres of wilderness.

Editor’s note: Quinn is the son of author Carl Hiaasen