aka “Florida’s Inland Sea”,
“The Lake” or “The Big O”
The name Okeechobee comes the Hitchiti words oki (water) and chubi (big).
The largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida! 730 square miles with an average depth of only 9 feet. At its capacity the lake holds 1 trillion gallons of water!
There is something about being out on a big body of water versus standing on the shoreline! The airboat tour was 2 hours and the 1st hour was in the fog and the 2nd hour with the sun slowly peeking through the mist. It made for an interesting composition of photos!
Not that deep!
Lake Okeechobee sits in a shallow geological trough that also underlies the Kissimmee River Valley and the Everglades. The lake is the headwaters of the Everglades. The Kissimmee River provides more than 60% of the water flowing into the lake.
The 100 foot dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail. Used by hikers and bicyclists.
Interesting Fact: Lake Okeechobee is featured in the first episode of American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Florida Airboat Charters
Chartered an airboat from Florida Airboat Charters to get out on Lake Okeechobee. Our Captain and guide was Jason, a TWS Certified Wildlife Biologist, Coast Guard Licensed Captain, experienced airboat operator, and state certified airboat instructor. He has worked extensively with alligators and knows his lakes and marshes in Central and South Florida. In Very Good Hands!
Florida Airboat Charters offers a custom airboating experience tailored to your wants and needs. Exploring. Wildlife (Gators) and Bird Watching. Ride On!
Highly recommend taking an airboat tour on Lake Okeechobee! A learning opportunity, an experience and oh so much FUN!
The Giant Toad
aka Bufo Marinus or Bufo Toad. Also known as a Marine Toad or Cane Toad.
Jason talked about the Bufo toads. The largest of the frogs and toads found in Florida. DO NOT Touch!
The toad’s call is a low-pitched trill and a chorus sounds like an idling diesel engine.
This toad is not native to the U.S. Released in the U.S. in the sugar cane fields to help control white grubs. Then accidentally released from a pet dealer at the Miami airport in 1955 (about 100 toads released). There were subsequent releases by pet dealers in the 1960’s. These toads will eat all types of native frogs and toads. These toads breed year round too!
Here is the Word of CAUTION!!!
When this non-native species is threatened or handled it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from its large glands at the back of its head, behind the ears. This secretion can burn your eyes, may irritate your skin and can even kill cats and dogs if they ingest the secretion.
Cities Around Lake Okeechobee
There are 5 Counties around Lake Okeechobee.
- Palm Beach
All five counties meet at one point near the center of the lake!
Okeechobee is known as the ‘Speckled Perch Capital of the World’. Lake Okeechobee is a natural resource for the fishing industry and is a sportman’s paradise, including several nationally sanctioned bass tournaments.
Interesting as well as Scary Fact: The Lake Okeechobee area was the site of the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane, the first recorded Category 5 Hurricane in the North Atlantic. One of the deadliest hurricanes ever to strike the United States. Two years before that was the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. Both hurricanes dramatically altered the landscape of the area.
A city in Glades County on the Southwest shoreline of Lake Okeechobee.
The city was named after James A. Moore, its founder. In its early days, Moore Haven was often called “Little Chicago” due to being a boom town.
A city in and the county seat of Hendry County. The city began as a settlement on the Caloosahatchee River around the time of Hamilton Disston’s efforts to drain the Everglades in the hope of promoting growth in the area. The settlement laid on the western edge of Captain Francis A. Hendry’s large Monroe County’s land. Populated with cattle drovers and trappers. In 1909, Captain Hendry subdivided his land to be sold. the majority land holding stake was bought by E.E. Goodno, which increased the size of LaBelle almost twenty times its original size. In 1925, the Florida Legislature chartered the City of LaBelle, which replaced the Town of LaBelle.
LaBelle hosts the annual Swamp Cabbage Festival, which is held in honor of the Florida state tree during the last full weekend of February. The festival includes a 5K walk/run, beauty pageant and rodeo.
A city in Hendry County near Lake Okeechobee.
Clewiston is known for it sport fishing, particularly of largemouth bass. This area was once used as a fishing camp by the Seminole Indians. The first permanent settlement began in 1920 and was incorporated as a city in 1925.
Large sugar plantations were established around Lake Okeechobee. The US Sugar Corporation remained the dominant manufacturer in Clewiston, which became known as “America’s Sweetest Town”. There was plenty of sugar cane to see driving around in this area!
By the 1950’s and the 1960’s the cultivation of citrus and vegetables as well as raising cattle were important to the economy.
Lake Okeechobee is at capacity right now with all the rain and the vegetation was full! It was hard to tell at times if I was on water or a big, grassy field!
These gators know how to camouflage really well, especially among the full vegetation! Plus it has been warm, so prefer to be in the water swimming about!
Lily & Lotus
A favorite area of mine!
Snail Kites & Snails
My 1st time seeing a Snail Kite! I was not able to captured the Snail Kite with the snail in its talons though – move so fast as well as pretty much without sound!
Snail Eggs (finally know what this is!)
I am so not a fan of the eight-legged! I had to suck it up though while going through hundreds of webs while sitting on the airboat. Those webs are quite sticky too. I would have lost it if I ended up with a full face of spider though!
Then Jason had to ask, “How many spiders do you think are out here?”. Too many in my opinion looking at all the webs surrounding me. Plus 1 Spider is more than enough for me!
(Photos by RSheridan)