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Life Support

Florida's Lake Ockeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff

This swale on the Rafter T Ranch in Florida was originally dug to build a road. Now it is plugged and holds water on the landscape, keeps excess nutrients from flushing into the lake, and creates wildlife habitat. 

Katherine Wolkoff

An Everglade snail kite floats and flaps over the Lake Okeechobee's marshes, looking for snails. 

Katherine Wolkoff

American lotus leaves, coated in fine hairs that repel water, cover large areas of Lake Okeechobee in spring and summer, sprouting yellow flowers before dying back in autumn.

Katherine Wolkoff

A two-foot juvenile alligator amid a stand of three-square bulrushes. As they age, male alligators, which can reach 14 feet and 1,000 pounds, lose their yellow stripes and turn almost completely black. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Paul Gray, Audubon of Florida’s Okeechobee science coordinator (in his signature barefoot state), works tirelessly to restore the lake’s ecosystem. Okeechobee—“plenty big water” in the Seminole language—is the Southeast’s largest lake and the heart of a water system that includes the Kissimmee River, the Everglades, and Florida Bay. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Hickory Hammock Trail, in Florida. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Lake Okeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff

The common white ibis depends on wetlands like Okeechobee, where it feeds on worms, crayfish, clams, and other invertebrates. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Yellow lotus bloom on Lake Okeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff

Lotus leaves on Lake Okeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff

Water management system at Buck Island Ranch, in Florida.

Katherine Wolkoff

Millet grows on Lake Okeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff

Pink clusters of eggs belonging to the exotic apple snail. Snail kites feet on apple snails. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Sunrise over the Kissimmee River, which feeds into Lake Okeechobee. 

Katherine Wolkoff

Lotus.

Katherine Wolkoff

A snail kite flies overhead at Lake Okeechobee.

Katherine Wolkoff