The 0.5-mile West Lake Trail boardwalk offers a good look at the mangrove forests growing in brackish lakes along Florida’s coasts. All 3 types of mangroves (red, white and black) are found at West Lake. The walk also presents a good opportunity to see the relatively rare American crocodile.
Mangroves are a vital part of the Everglades ecosystem. They are nurseries for shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and small fish: the tight mangrove roots make wonderful hiding places to protect the tiny marine life from predators. Mosquitoes and mangroves go hand in hand, so take repellent.
Mangroves also serve as important bird rookeries, secure from most land predators. Raccoons, in search of oysters growing on the mangroves’ prop roots, will sometimes dine on birds’ eggs instead.
Look for bromeliads (air plants) growing in the mangrove branches. Not the normal place for them but dry habitat is scare in the Glades.
In looking for a crocodile here, remember that crocs vary in color from greenish to grayish, while alligators are blackish. The most pronounced difference between the 2 reptiles is their heads: crocs have a narrow almost pointed snout where gators have a broad, blunt one
No crocs here? They are almost assured at the Flamingo Marina.