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Airboat Safety at Mack’s Fish Camp

Airboats are easily the best way to get around in the Everglades. Not to mention the most fun. They can take you across the countless miles of wetlands and bring you up close to wildlife. But one may have safety concerns about the airboat ride itself. Accidents can happen, but at Mack’s Fish Camp we know that good airboat safety can help plan for many and prevent most.

For generations of Gladesmen, airboats have been a large part of our thriving out here for as long as we have. We are grateful to be able to show people from all over the world what makes the Everglades so special. But, we also take price in doing so safely.

Before an airboat tour, we advise our passengers on safety precautions before even leaving the dock. Here are some of the airboat safety guidelines airboats must follow, per the Florida Department of Environmental Services. They were designed to help offer a safer experience on an airboat ride in the Everglades.

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Preoperative Checklist
The airboat captain inspects the vessel to make sure the engine and propeller aren’t damaged and in working order. This helps to prevent both injury and mechanical breakdown.

Safety Equipment
A first-aid kit, eye and ear protection, drinking water, a B-1 type approved fire extinguisher, and a cell phone in a buoyant, waterproof case must all be on an airboat, in keeping with many requirements for recreational vessels.

Mind the Propeller
No one is permitted near the propeller. Loose clothing and items could get caught in it, resulting bodily injury to the person and damage to the airboat. To avoid this, all items aboard must be secured.

Navigation
We are trained and well-skilled in navigating and maneuvering any potential obstacles, blind spots, or tight areas. Having lived here our entire lives, we’re very familiar with the fluctuating water levels of the Everglades and the area itself. We can safely avoid getting stuck in stuck, but also know where we are in case of an emergency.

Weather
The subtropical climate of Florida can make for volatile weather conditions, such as heavy thunderstorms, high winds and lightning. We stay mindful of the weather throughout the day, acting accordingly with any changes. In case of fog, airboats are operated with strobes for increased visibility of the craft. During or pending any inclement weather like lightning or heavy rain and wind, our airboats remain docked.

Preventative Maintenance
Every week we perform maintenance to keep our airboats both clean and fully operational. We check the engine, propeller, exhaust system and more for any signs of aging or wear, making adjustments or repairs as needed.

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We Gladesmen have been navigating the Everglades by airboat for decades now. We also take pride in sharing it with all who visit it by showing them a fun, exciting, and safe ride. This environment is our home, and we practice proper airboat safety to make sure that all visitors feel at home.


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Everglades Airboat Tours: A Relaxing Thrill Ride

The experience of visiting the Everglades couldn’t be more different from the busy cities near South Florida’s beaches. The latter can bring with it exciting sensory overload, while the former allows for easygoing relaxation. But Everglades airboat tours offer both a thrilling ride and the chance to explore a unique, beautiful ecosystem.

Airboats make getting there half the fun!

Built with powerful motors and a distinct design, airboats look like they’re flying over the marsh rather than on it. Racing airboats can reach speeds well over 100 miles per hour, yet most airboats operate most safely under 40 miles per hour. Our everglades airboat tours at Mack’s Fish Camp abide by this safety standard. But make no mistake, moving through this vast ecosystem on an airboat is a thrill like none other.

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Airboats can go where motorboats can’t

The landscape of the Everglades has many areas with low water and thick vegetation, which are difficult for motorboats to navigate through. Airboats are flat-bottomed boats driven by a large propeller that sits above the water. This design doesn’t just allow them access to areas hidden beyond the sawgrass. The position of the propeller also prevents airboats from disturbing the plants or animals.

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Relax as you discover the river of grass

Once the initial flight of your airboat ride slows, you’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the sloughs and marshes. Under an endless sky, miles from crowded intersections, you can appreciate the calm stillness of nature. You’ll hear and see many species of birds, including raptors like ospreys and colorful wading birds like herons.  Not to mention you’ll see plenty of the icon of the Florida Everglades, the American alligator.

Apart from being the transportation standard of the Everglades, airboats provide an exciting way to venture deep into its many habitats. Everglades airboat tours give you the best of both worlds of Florida fun: rollercoaster thrills and the relaxation of nature.  If you want to see for yourself or are just curious, then come and pay a visit to Mack’s Fish Camp.


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Different Habitats of the Everglades

People are often surprised to find out that the Florida Everglades is actually a very large, slow-moving river. Another common misconception about the Everglades is that it is just one, individual habitat: the Everglades. The famed “River of Grass” is actually a nickname for the sawgrass marsh, just one of several different habitats that exist here within the Glades.

Each one is defined by its:

  • Water level
  • Land elevation
  • Type of vegetation

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Sawgrass marsh

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Here is the signature “river of grass” environment for which the Everglades is best known. It’s an area much more shallow than the slough and stays flooded for the better part of the year. It has low species diversity, with the dense areas of sawgrass favored by alligators for nesting. Unlike the hardwood hammock, it can bounce back from fire quickly because of its wet roots.

Sloughs

Much deeper than the sawgrass marsh, this area is more river than grass and the main area of water flow of the Everglades. This low lying section of land channels a current that slowly moves at a whopping 100 feet (30 meters) every day! The slough (pronounced “SLOO”) section of the Everglades is made up of two main sections, The Shark River Slough located along in the center and south, and the Taylor Slough on the eastern side.

Hardwood hammock

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The hardwood hammock is a dense area of trees and shrubs. Tropical tree species like gumbo limbo and cocoplum grow beside more temperate species like hackberry, live oak, and even red maple. Because of its open understory and high humidity, the hammock region is fire-resistant, but strong drought conditions make them easy prey for fire damage.

Pinelands

Also known as the pine rocklands, it is an area of forest that sits on exposed limestone substrate. It is found on higher ground like another dry habitat, the hardwood hammock. While named for its abundance of slash pine, much of the ground is covered by saw palmetto. Fire plays an important role for the pines here. Periodic fires burn away hardwood trees while sparing the well-adapted pines, letting more sunlight in to help pine seedlings grow.

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The Everglades is a unique place to visit, having a variety of facets to it that are unlike any in the world. Each one can be explored for hours on a canoe kayak, but a private airboat tour can take you on an exciting ride through many of them and also show you their individual beauty one-by-one!


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5 Amazing Facts About the Everglades

Being as unique as it, there’s little wonder why people from the world over visit the Florida Everglades. There are multiple habitats in the Everglades full of unique wildlife and vegetation that are an awesome sight to behold up close on a private airboat tour. Many people aren’t aware of how big of a role the Everglades play here and outside of South Florida. Here are some facts about this gem we call home!

It’s a river

Considered by many people to be only a swamp, the Everglades is actually a shallow, slow-moving river! It measures approximately 100 miles long and 60 miles wide, and runs from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay at the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula.

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It provides drinking water to millions

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That slow flow of water comes from Lake Okeechobee and soaks into the limestone rock on its way south, and is then stored in underground caves called aquifers. The Everglades feeds the Biscayne Aquifer, which provides drinking water to over 7 million people!

Alligators and crocodiles coexist here and nowhere else! 

These two often-mistaken cousins, the American alligator and the American crocodile, both inhabit the Everglades. While being here puts them at extreme ends of the range they’re found in, the southernmost for alligators and farthest north for crocodiles, they don’t keep close company. Alligators prefer the freshwater areas of the Everglades located more inland, while crocodiles tend stay more toward the coastal areas.

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It’s the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds

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During the Everglades dry season while the water is low, wading birds like the Great Blue Heron, roseatte spoonbill, and wood stork nest here in droves. The low water helps concentrate the fish and snails that these nesting birds feed on, helping them to feed their babies more easily.

It’s defined by water, and maintained by fire

The dry season isn’t just for the birds, but helps bring new life into the Everglades itself. Sawgrass fires improve water flow through its river basin, and fires in the pinelands and hammock areas help burn away species of trees whose shade keeps the pines from growing. In optimal conditions, the fires are smothered by the rainfall at the start of the wet season in May.

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The Florida Everglades is a majestic place, both exciting and educational for families, photographers, and anyone with a love for the outdoors. If you’d like to know more or want to get out here and experience it firsthand, visit Mack’s Fish Camp in Miami and take a private airboat tour guided by fifth-generation Gladesmen.