The United States of America is a country of outstanding natural beauty. There are many places which attract tourists from all over the world. One of the places worth visiting is Shark Valley, which is located in Florida. In this paper, we will present some information concerning Shark Valley’s geography and natural conditions, its wildlife, and opportunities offered to tourists who wish to visit this magnificent place.
Shark Valley is located 30 miles west of Miami. It is part of Everglades National Park, one of the largest national parks in the United States occupying the territory of 1.5 million acres (“Shark Valley Home Page “ par. 16). The place is a geological depression, “a broad expanse of freshwater marsh bordered on the east and west by ridges of higher elevation” (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 18).
It is located at the beginning of natural wetland depression, a freshwater marsh known as Shark River Slough (“The Shark River Slough” par. 2 ). Sloughs are broad, shallow channels through which waters of Everglades flow all year long (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 18).
Shark Valley’s landscape includes prairies where sawgrass grows. These prairies are deluged during wet seasons. During these periods, sawgrass is covered with water; only tips of the grass sometimes stick up from the water. For this reason, another name for Shark Valley is Pa-Hay-Okee, which means “river of grass” (Lodge 3, 242).
Large quantities of oolitic limestone are contained in Shark Valley. Limestone is a mineral of marine origin. It wears over time, so it is riddled with numerous holes and cracks that very often are capable of containing water.
A result is a vast number of underground aquifers, which serve as a source of fresh water not only for Shark Valley or Everglades but for all south-eastern Florida. This source is regularly refilled during wet seasons when there is the River of Grass in Shark Valley (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 16-17).
Shark Valley is a place where wildlife thrives. It is home to numerous types of animals and plants. The representatives of the following species (and many others) can be found in Shark Valley:
- Fish and snails: mosquito fish, sunfish, bass, tilapia, garfish, tree snails, apple snails, African jewelfish (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 14; “Shark Valley Guide”).
- Mammals: white-tailed deer, otters, opossums, raccoons, bobcats, and panthers (“Shark Valley Guide”).
- Reptiles: American alligators; red-bellied turtle; softshell turtle; green anole lizard; rat snake; cottonmouth, or water moccasin; Burmese python, brown water snake (“Shark Valley Guide”; “Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 14).
- Birds: anhinga, or the snake bird; great blue heron; great egret; snowy egret; white ibis; purple gallinule; red-shouldered hawk; turkey vulture; roseate spoonbills; common moorhen; wood storks, white-crowned pigeon (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 15; “Florida Everglades–Shark Valley”; “Shark Valley Guide”).
- Insects: fire ants, cockroaches, scorpions, spiders (golden silk orbweaver, orchard spider), bees, wasps, mosquitoes (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 3, 14-15).
- Plants: Brazilian pepper, poisonwood, poison ivy, sawgrass (“Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide” 14-15).
Being a place of outstanding beauty, and a part of Everglades National Park, Shark Valley is a major tourist attraction. A 15-miles loop road, along which tourists can walk or cycle, is located in Shark Valley. Tram-tours along the loop road are also organized. If they wish, visitors can enjoy bird watching, hike along the trails of Shark Valley, or take part in one of Ranger Guided Tours (“Shark Valley – Tamiami” par. 3, 5-9).
Having described Shark Valley’s geography and natural conditions, and looked into its wildlife, we would like to add that this is a place definitely worth visiting, for the greatness and beauty of its nature is breathtaking beyond any doubt.
Everglades: Shark Valley Day Program Teacher’s Guide. n.d. PDF file. 2015.
Florida Everglades–Shark Valley 2010.
Lodge, Thomas E. The Everglades Handbook: Understanding the Ecosystem. 3rd ed. 2010. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Group.
Shark Valley Guide. 2010.
Shark Valley Home Page. n.d.
Shark Valley – Tamiami 2015.
The Shark River Slough. n.d.