Did you know…
- Florida is home to 21.3 million people and is gaining around 900 new residents every day. Over the past few years, more than 100 million tourists have visited Florida annually.
- Florida’s earliest people arrived around 12,000 years ago. They lived in the cooler, drier northern peninsula near watering holes but also likely along the coast.
- There are 8,436 miles of shoreline in Florida including offshore islands, sounds, bays, tidal rivers, and tidal creeks.
- South Florida is the only place in the world where both crocodiles and alligators share habitat.
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Florida has the most lightning strikes in the United States. Each year, an average of 10 people are killed by lightning in Florida and an additional 40 are seriously injured. To keep yourself safe, remember the National Weather Service’s mantra “When thunder roads, go indoors!” Take shelter in buildings with electricity and plumbing or metal-topped vehicles with the windows closed. Florida lightning info from Florida State University.
The Northern Mockingbird can be found throughout most of the southern and eastern U.S., including all of Florida. These birds sing all day, and often into the night. Males sing more often (and louder) than females, and a single male may learn up to 200 songs throughout its lifetime! Keep an eye (or ear!) out for northern mockingbirds in your backyard, where they may enjoy eating from fruiting trees or berry-producing bushes. Info from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Green sea turtles can be found throughout Florida’s marine waters and nest along much of Florida’s coastline. In fact, Florida is home to one of the largest green turtle nesting groups in the western Atlantic! Green sea turtles get their name from their insides. Their body fat is green, likely from all the algae and seagrasses they eat as part of their herbivorous diet. These turtles are considered endangered, and face threats from fishing gear and marine debris entanglement, boat strikes, nesting habitat loss or degradation, disease, egg poaching, and more! Info from myFWC and NOAA.
The three National Forests in Florida, when combined, span almost 1.2 million acres. On average, 1.1 million people visits these forests each year! Camping, boating, hiking, hunting, and fishing are just some of the recreational activities Florida’s National Forests have to offer. Florida’s National Forests also preserve cultural resources and provide key habitat for 13 endangered, 15 threatened, and 172 sensitive species. Learn more from the U.S. Forest Service.
Florida loves its oranges! The orange is Florida’s official state fruit, and orange juice is Florida’s official state beverage. Orange you going to ask us what the official state flower is? You guessed it–the orange blossom! Info from Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry.
Coreopsis is Florida’s official state wildflower. There are 17 species, many of which are Florida natives. It has been used extensively for the state’s highway beautification program and can be found on many roadsides. Coreopsis is featured on a Florida specialty license plate and is also called “tickseed” because of the oval-shaped seeds in the center of the flowers that resemble the insect. Image from iNaturalist user jh1792 (CC-BY-NC). Info from the FL Department of State and FL Wildflower Foundation.
The lionfish is an invasive species in Florida. Introduced to Florida waters in the 1980s, the lionfish eats other fish that are important for Florida’s ecosystems and economy. Management strategies include encouraging lionfish removal via spearfishing tournaments. When caught in appropriate areas and prepared properly (avoiding the fish’s venemous spines), lionfish can be eaten! Info from Florida Sea Grant and MyFWC.
From end to end, Florida is a long state! Assuming no stops or traffic, it would take around 13 hours to drive from Pensacola to Key West, FL. The journey is about the same as a road trip from Jacksonville, FL to Philadelphia, PA, which would have you pass through 8 states and the District of Columbia! Trip length estimates from Google Maps.
More than 1,000 springs have been discovered in Florida, and most of them maintain a water temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit year-round! Manatees take advantage of this warmer water each winter as they migrate into the springs and away from cooler marine water temperatures. Pictured here is the Three Sisters Spring near Crystal River. Photo from US FWS, info from FL DEP.