August 23, 2014

Endangered Florida: 4 Places for Nature Lovers to See Rare Wildlife

Florida has a variety of fragile ecosystems that are home to rare birds, mammals, fish, and other creatures. 

Many organizations work to protect these rare and endangered species, but some cannot survive the changing environment. 

Nature lovers who want to experience Florida's rarest wildlife should make travel plans soon so they don't miss anything.

Rare Wildlife Near Orlando

Disney World and SeaWorld dominate wildlife viewing in the Orlando area. Disney's Animal Kingdom has more than 250 species of animals, including cotton-top tamarin monkeys, macaws, lemurs, giraffes, and hippos. 

Animal Kingdom has several sections dedicated to the wildlife of specific environments, such as areas specifically designed to recreate Africa's forests and savannahs.

SeaWorld's Orlando location has a lot of aquatic animals, but it also has several bird species. Some of SeaWorld's biggest attractions include killer whales, parrots, bottlenose dolphins, penguins, and the rare West Indian manatee.

These theme parks offer so many types of animals that vacationers would have to travel the globe for months to spot them all. To make the most of your animal-watching time, find a conveniently located hotel near Animal Kingdom or SeaWorld. Most hotels in the area have family-friendly atmospheres, but some hotels cater specifically to families on vacation.

Exotic Wildlife in the Everglades

The Everglades is an area of tropical wetlands perfectly suited to some of Florida's rare wildlife, including the American alligator, American crocodile, green turtle, and red-cockaded woodpecker.

Visitors can see these and other unique species on guided tours on airboats and swamp buggies designed to traverse the swampy land. There are several tour guide companies in Ochopee, Everglades City, and Naples. Compare their packages to find affordable rates on expert tours.

Whale Watching Near Daytona Beach

Migrating whales often spend winter along northern Florida's coast. Tourists who want to see whales, especially the endangered right whale, just need to find a good spot along the coast and wait for the sea mammals to swim by.

The area around Daytona Beach has several good places for spotting the right whale and humpback whale between December and March. Some good locations include:

Augustine Pier
Sunglow Pier
Flagler Beach Pier
Main Street Pier

Visitors can also take water tours to get a closer look at whales wintering in Florida's warm waters.

Right and humpback whales are most active in February, so visitors determined to see them should plan accordingly.

See Florida Panthers in Naples

Although Florida panther sightings have increased in recent years, looking for them in the wild is fairly dangerous. Instead of putting yourself at risk, visit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples. The Conservancy has an impressive collection of over 100 threatened and endangered species, including the elusive Florida panther.

The Conservancy also has mammals, birds, and reptiles native to southern Florida. The organization welcomes visitors throughout the year and has several programs designed to educate and entertain guests of all ages.

What are your favorite animals in Florida? Do you have a specific place where you go to see them?

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