[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Dry weather a good thing for local wildlife


Dry weather a good thing for local wildlife

Jun 03, 2011 5:12 PM EDT


Extremely hot and dry sums up the conditions for wildlife in Southwest Florida right now. But the lack of water isn't really a bad thing.

"I really can't see a downside from the wildlife's perspective," said Jason Lauritsen, assistant director at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

He says wildlife adapts to extremes.

Right now, animals are on the move as areas that were holding water dry up.

Friday, we found dozens of alligators crowding in water along Immokalee Road, because on the other side of the bridge water is quickly disappearing.

Fish that remain in the water are becoming concentrated in smaller pools, which make for easy hunting.

"[The concentrated pools] are going to draw in otters, alligators, and snakes will even come in and clean out the little tiny fish that are hanging around," Lauritsen said.

The dry weather actually helps control fish populations. In a drought, exotic fish may suffer. It could take years for them to recover, but during that time native fish thrive.

Grasslands also thrive, even though dry weather means brush fires.

Fires are a very "human" concern. Lauritsen says for wildlife, it's just part of the course. He calls a lightning strike that burned 70-acres in the sanctuary "just what the doctor ordered."

"Pines and other grasses really need that to regenerate and maintain certain habitats," Lauritsen said.

The dry conditions will persist until rainy season makes its debut, which Lauritsen says typically starts in late-May or mid-June.

"I see the cloud formations start to form in the afternoon," Lauritsen said. "Could be any day now."

Until then, Lauritsen says nature is doing just fine.

"During times like this we look out there and we see wildlife respond to the extreme dry and it's doing what it's supposed to do," Lauritsen said.

By Jennifer Trammell

NBC News

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