Your Moment of Everglades Zen: Magical Moments of 2023
The striking features of a great blue heron are highlighted by the sun in this portrait from Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Palm Beach County on March 30, 2023.
A well-fed American alligator flashes a toothy grin as it naps under trees filled with wading bird eggs at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Palm Beach County on March 30, 2023.
An aerial view at sunset of the wetlands of the northern Everglades in WCA-3 on June 1, 2023.
A wood stork’s feathers are illuminated by the sunlight as it lifts out of a pond at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Palm Beach County on March 30, 2023. Nearly 200 bird species can be found at the manmade wetlands.
A close-up view of a double-crested cormorant who sits perched on the Anhinga Trail boardwalk in Everglades National Park on Feb. 21, 2023.
Sawgrass sprouts out of WCA-2A on Oct. 20, 2023.
A purple gallinules walks across floating lily pads in the freshwater marsh of Taylor Slough along the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park on Feb. 21, 2023. With strong legs and long toes, purple gallinules can forage on land and through marsh vegetation or waterside shrubs.
A brood of wood stork chicks reach for food from a parent in their nest at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Palm Beach County on March 30, 2023. Wood storks regurgitate fish and aquatic invertebrates to their young.
A manatee glides through the waters near the Stuart Sandbar with a school of mullet on Jan. 12, 2023, in Martin County. This area, once lush with seagrass, is barren from the manatee’s main source of food.
A great horned owl keeps watch over Hawk’s Bluff Trail at Savannas Preserve State Park on Aug. 28, 2023.
Our favorite Everglades photos of 2023
Photos and words by Friends of the Everglades Multimedia Producer Leah Voss
It’s a special honor to work full-time at Friends of the Everglades visualizing this unique ecosystem through images and video. Many days are spent behind a computer screen, crafting visual stories that help people understand Everglades issues and get to know our supporters and staff. But the days I spend outside are the most memorable. This year, I’ve explored the Greater Everglades on foot, by boat and car, and gained even greater perspective with aerial views while piloting my drone. Each method of surveying provides a different experience.
As I reflect on 2023, I am deeply grateful for many special expeditions in the Everglades. One beautiful evening brought me to the Anhinga Trail, where everything the light touched was drenched by the golden sun. Another day was spent at Palm Beach County’s Wakodahatchee Wetlands — a popular spot for bird photography during nesting season. I looked on in awe as baby birds, one just minutes old, stayed comfortable in their nests and relied on their mothers for food. This summer, I explored Loop Road alone by car, taking the 24 miles slowly and stopping dozens of times to gaze into the cypress strands along the way.
These photos illuminate what I love most about the Everglades: the life, as wild and unruly as it is. Sometimes it’s noisy and obvious, like the flapping wings of a wading bird lifting out of the water. Sometimes you have to slow down and search for it, keeping an intent watch on the depths of the swamp until alligator eyes find yours. For a photographer, the thrill of capturing one of these moments in an image is unmatched.
I draw strength and inspiration from what I study in nature. I hope these photos, featuring some of my most memorable Everglades moments of 2023, leave a similar impression on you. May they provide us all with reason to continue the fight to preserve, protect and restore the only Everglades in the world in the year ahead.