Today we took a field trip to Jonathan Dickinson State Park where we boarded the Loxahatchee Queen II for a tour of the scenic Loxahatchee River. While we were cruising down the river we saw a variety of bromeliads, leather ferns, red mangroves, slash pine, and Sabal Palms. Along the river’s edge we saw quite a few alligators, a Peninsula Cooter, and several birds including: nesting osprey, herons and great blue herons. While on the river we learned that they used to use Spanish Moss as a mattress and car seat filler. Because Spanish Moss is known to carry small bugs it is also believed to be where the saying, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” comes from as a reference to the bugs that were inside the mattress and car seats!
We stopped off at Trapper Nelson’s Interpretive Site where we learned more about the of the Wildman of the Loxahatchee as we toured his zoo, gardens, guest cabin and personal cabin. The children enjoyed seeing the cabins, animal cages and traps he had on the property and our ranger tour guide was extremely kid friendly and enthusiastic. During our tour he showed us one of Trapper Nelson’s pineapple plants and told us that it takes three years for a pineapple plant to produce fruit. Did you know that? We didn’t.
Once back at Jonathan Dickinson state park the kids finished their lunches and played at the playground. Then, it was onto our learning lectures were the children had an opportunity to use microscopes in an air conditioned lab and see the parks personal insect collection up close.
We had a great time and it was a wonderful way to kick off our school week. To read more about what we are doing regarding this study please visit my other blog, Young Florida Naturalist’s Guide, and click on Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Loxahatchee River, or Trapper Nelson Interpretive Site.