american alligator, slidell, louisiana. wouldn’t be the bayou without these guys. since it was unseasonably cold, we didn’t see too many gators out. they’re cold blooded, so they tend to pile together in dens to keep warm until the water temperature rises. come april and may though, it’s breeding season, and i don’t think i’d want to be anywhere near a bull alligator in late spring.
cajun hot tub, slidell, lousiana. honey island swamp is home to one of the most interesting communities in the south, the cajuns. the name cajun comes from ‘acadian’; these people trace their roots back hundreds of years to the french-speaking people of acadia (part of canada). the culture has contributed much to the fabric of new orleans, from their music and culture to their language. fishing is essential to their way of life, and people park their shrimping or fishing boats right outside their home – which, hopefully, is raised high up on cement or wooden pillars.
honey island swamp, slidell, louisiana. pearl river eco tours took us out on a small boat to experience life in a louisiana wetland. it was stunningly beautiful and quiet, with spanish moss hanging from the trees and glassy water. bald cypress and tupelo gum trees lined the water, and it actually smelled delicious. (go figure.)
louisiana iris, slidell, lousiana. this is the state wildflower of louisiana, and this particular species can grow up to six feet tall. they grow natively in freshwater marshes, swamps, and wetlands. there aren’t many of these flowers left, and our tour guide explained that they only bloom for a couple of weeks in the spring. wetlands are crucial for carbon storage, fisheries habitat, and protection from floods. although louisiana has 40% of the wetlands in the US, they also represent 80% of its losses.