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Alligator Alley

Map of Alligator Alley
Map showing location of Alligator Alley.

Alligator Alley (I-75) is one of the major east-west highways that cross South Florida. Driving east to west along Alligator Alley, one travels through the populated Naples area with its manicured golf courses, the wilderness of Big Cypress Swamp and the sawgrass marshes of Water Conservation Area 3. Wading birds in flight and at rest, and yes, alligators, can also be seen along the canal banks adjacent to the highway.

Step out from behind the vehicle window and see some of the alligators and sawgrass marshes that are found along Alligator Alley.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken December, 1999 and April, 2000]

Alligator Alley

photo of marsh area along I-75
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A recreation area along I-75 (Alligator Alley), located about 2 miles from the eastern end of I-75, provided this northerly view of the marshland that makes up Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3). Marshes generally contain grasses and sedges and contain few if any trees and shrubs.

Here many plants prospers in the marsh. WCA-3 receives agricultural runoff so much of the native sawgrass marsh has been replaced by cattails that prosper in nutrient-enriched waters.

Look closely to see the duck-like coot swimming among the spatterdocks (yellow cow lilies). American coots are mainly gray and have a short, thick beak. They are commonly seen in open ponds and marshes and in saltwater bays and inlets. Foods coots may eat include aquatic plants, fish, mollusks and insects.

photo of alligators laying along the road
A short drive north off of I-75 (Alligator Alley) onto Hwy 833, brought us by these two alligators lying along a canal. How many alligators can you spot?
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photo of the flooded marshes along WCA3
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(Right) The marsh of Water Conservation Area 3 as seen looking north of I-75 (Alligator Alley), from a recreation area located about 2 miles west of the eastern end of I-75. Spatterdock are seen in the foreground.

(Left) Looking westward at the flooded marshes of Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3). Coots are swimming along the dense plants of WCA-3.

photo of a marshy area in WCA3
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Photo of birds along a canal near Hwy 833
A large flock of birds, mostly egrets, resting and flying along a canal on Hwy 833 (a short drive north off of I-75 (Alligator Alley)). [larger image]

A Sea of Sawgrass
Photo of sawgrass
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(Left) A close-up of sawgrass. Sawgrass is a member of the sedge family and is not really a grass. It is named for the rows of sharp teeth that run along each edge and down the central spine. If touched in the wrong direction, sawgrass can cut.
Looking west from US 27, just south of the US 27/I-75 (Alligator Alley) intersection, at a vast sawgrass expanse of Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA-3). Sawgrass is the most abundant plant in the Everglades' "River of Grass". It grows 100 miles north and south from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico and 50 - 70 miles east to west.

Panoramic of Alligator Alley
panoramic photo of Alligator Alley
This large panoramic shows you a sea of sawgrass. [larger image]

photo of a dragon fly A large dragonfly rests atop the short vegetation of the roadside, just south of the US 27/I-75 (Alligator Alley) intersection. Did you notice this dragonfly's gossamer wings?

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Urbanization in South Florida
Looking east from US 27, just south of the US 27/I-75 (Alligator Alley) intersection, at urbanization encroaching on the sawgrass. The more than 4 million people that live near or along South Florida's coast today have great effects on the area's water resources. These urbanization effects include non-point source pollution (pollutants from no readily identifiable source) of stormwater runoff, reduction of infiltration, increase of flood potential and degradation of water bodies receiving water.
photo of sawgrass with houses in the distance
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photo of sawgrass with houses in the distance
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photo of sawgrass with houses and crane in the distance
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East of US 27, just south of the US 27/I-75 (Alligator Alley) intersection, yellowtop blooms along the roadside.

Yellowtop generally blooms year-round in Florida. It is commonly found in coastal hammocks, dunes, pinelands and disturbed areas of central and southern Florida.

photo of yellowtop blooms
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Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications for studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of Alligator Alley. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
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Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)