Heather Donlan (right) began photographing the Everglades about three years ago after taking her first airboat ride. “I fell in love with the rugged and inhospitable terrain. It was so different than any other place I have ever worked,” says Donlan, who operates a namesake photography studio in Naples. Her Everglades photography began as a personal fine-art project to fuel her creativity. Donlan became so enthralled with Florida’s River of Grass that she joined the host committee of the Everglades Foundation‘s 2014 ForEverglades Gala that took place on April 11, 2014 at Revs Institute for Automotive Research.
Sarah Van Arsdale
Many visitors are drawn to the River of Grass to capture a glimpse of the many types of spectacular birds it harbors, including the endangered wood stork and bald eagle. And while the mosquitos in the marsh environment are far from welcome by birders, perhaps they should be. The pesky insects actually play an important part in the Everglades food chain, according to the Everglades Foundation. Mosquito larvae provide food for a variety of fish, which are critical to the diet of the wading birds that we love to watch, including ibis, egrets and herons.
Everglades National Park keeps a close eye on all its endangered species, including the Florida panther, which it monitors by aircraft and radio collars. Tracking every move of the elusive panther, as well as what it eats, is critical in managing its future, according to the National Park Service. The Florida panther was hunted nearly to extinction by the 1950s, nearly 80 years after a bounty was placed on the carnivores because they were feared to be a threat to humans and livestock. Today, the National Park Service estimates there are fewer than 100 Florida panthers living in South Florida’s wildlands.