Carlton Ward Jr@carltonward

@NatGeo Explorer | Focused on the Hidden Wild | #PathofthePanther | @SeaLegacy Collective | Founder @FL_WildCorridor #FloridaWild

pathofthepanther.org/

576 posts 124,636 followers 614 following

Carlton Ward Jr

This week I had the privilege of photographing Sassy, an almost 4-year old Florida panther who lives at the Palm Beach Zoo. Her mother was killed by a car near Naples in 2014 and Sassy was the only of three kittens to survive. Biologists from @myfwc took her to @naples_zoo for immediate care in their animal hospital and she was later moved to the @palmbeachzoo for her permanent home where hundreds of thousands of visitors have a chance to see her each year. In addition to caring for injured and abandoned panthers, and giving homes to panthers that can’t be released to the wild, zoos serve an important role in educating the public about panthers and their conservation needs. Just a few minutes looking at this beautiful creature and anyone is going to fall in love. I’ve been chasing panthers in the wild with camera traps for 3 years and have seen two panthers in the wild with my own eyes. So I was mesmerized by the opportunity to observe Sassy in her large enclosure. Her grace, power and stealth was awe inspiring. At one point she jumped 10 feet down from a tree and landed on the ground right in front of me under full control without making a sound! Go see her yourself! Here a few photos from by visit with Sassy, all shot through the steel mesh of her habitat. Which is your favorite? Thanks @sonyalpha for loaning me a 400 2.8 lens that allowed me to produce wonderfully sharp photos with the foreground and background out of focus, and all handheld because the lens is so lightweight. Thanks to the @panthers_florida foundation, Fox Sports Miami and Zoo President Margo McKnight for working with me to share the #pathofthepanther story! #morethanamascot #PantherPortrait #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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Carlton Ward Jr

A heart shaped petal floats on the waters of the Fakahatchee Strand. I believe it’s from a pond apple flower. Maybe the petals are like a boats adapted to ride slow currents and sustain the forest by delivering seeds to pockets of swamp beyond the reach of the parent trees’ branches. Can any botanists or naturalists out there please confirm or correct this ID and caption? Update from @benjistudtphoto: “Nailed the petal ID! (Way cool photo, btw!) But on the seed theory...seeds develop later inside the fruit (which is pretty tasty if you like things that are tart). I believe the fruits do float...but are generally falling just before the wet season...so most are dispersed by all the hungry swamp critters!” Thank you! So much for my seed boat theory but tasty fruit dispersed my animals is super cool. #pondapple #love #swamp #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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Carlton Ward Jr

This is a favorite photograph of an American alligator and one of my post popular art prints. It was also a lesson in light. Many people have asked me why the gator looks blue. The reason is the juxtaposition of warm and cool light. The sun had just dropped below the tree line and their entire surface of the pond was in cool shadow, making the gray gator appear blue, and even more so against the warm sunset rays that were catching the tops of the cypress trees and reflecting on the water. I was following the gator with a 600mm lens, waiting and hoping that he would swim through the bright and colorful reflection. Shot at Babcock Ranch State Preserve. #alligator #gator #swamp #floridawildlifecorridor #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild #PathofthePanther @natgeoimagecollection


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Carlton Ward Jr

A boy rides his horse in the Macal River just upstream of its confluence with the Mopan River in San Ignacio Belize. I was doing a story on the Macal River for a @uflorida photojournalism course in 2001, just before a controversial hydroelectric dam was built a few miles upstream from San Ignacio. The previous day, fellow photographer Eric Zamora and I were documenting the headwaters of the Macal further up in the Maya Mountains when we capsized our canoe and drowned all of our camera equipment. Thankfully I had a Nikon FM2 as a backup camera that is fully mechanical and operates even when wet. That camera and a bit of luck saved my assignment on the final day. I swam out into the river with water up to my neck to capture this moment of life connected to the Macal River. It was published in newspapers and magazines in Belize, the US and Canada. Had I not drowned my other camera the day before, I might not have had the courage to go for this shot. But I had already been baptized by the river at that point and didn’t hesitate to jump in. Thankfully the trusty FM2 and a role of Velvia helped get the job done. #Belize #Macal #River #Horse @natgeoimagecollection #FM2 #Velvia


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Carlton Ward Jr

Florida Growth and How to Manage it. Check out the radio program Florida Matters at 6:30 EST today on @wusfpublicmedia 89.7 FM. Host Steve Newborn interviews me and planning expert Paul Owen from 1000 Friends of Florida. These photos are from one of the most challenged regions of the Florida Wildlife Corridor near Orlando and a foreshadowing of the fragmentation that will happen to the rest of Florida if we don’t invest more seriously in land conservation. Please tune in this evening or listen online through the link and in my bio. @fl_wildcorridor #KeepFLWild


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Carlton Ward Jr

Remembering Bali (3 photos) - flashback to a dozen years ago, when in an effort to isolate myself to finish writing my master’s thesis on Conservation Photography, the logical decision was to go to Nusa Lembongan, a small island off the coast of Bali. I lived in a small hut where I spent 6 hours a day writing. I also managed to surf one tide or go shoot photos for a couple hours most days. The first photo is my good friend Hassan, who came to visit for a week, scoring some tube time at a break called Playgrounds. The other photos are local surfers there and at a break called Shipwrecks. While Florida doesn’t have reef breaks quite like these, I am feeling inspired to dust off my surfboards and spend some more time in the water this year. #bali #surf


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Carlton Ward Jr

Oysters provide numerous environmental benefits. As filter feeders they clean the water. As reefs, they help buffer coastlines from storms and maintain estuaries by slowing the release is freshwater. At the mouth of the Suwannee River, scientists and local fishermen have worked together to complete the Lone Cabbage Reef project, laying rock and shell substrate to rebuild oyster reefs where they were historically located. Flying above the site during Abdullah moon low tide, it is easy to see how the new reefs are protecting the coast from storms and sea level rise while holding back freshwater from the Gulf of Mexico to improve growing conditions for oysters and overall balance of the ecosystem. In the second photo, Dr. Peter Frederick from the University of Florida and his team are measuring the progress of their work. #Suwannee #estuary #gulfofmexico #restoration #floridawild #keepflwild


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Carlton Ward Jr

The Suwannee River Delta is one of my favorite places on earth. Which photo do you like best? I shot these last weekend on a flight with @hyper.heli. A few miles north of Cedar Key and 90 miles north of Tampa, the fabled Suwannee River spreads it’s freshwater branches into the Gulf of Mexico to form an estuary of national importance. The Suwannee flows 240 miles from its headwaters in the Okefenokee Swamp of southern Georgia. With a Okefenokee and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges protecting each end, the river is a vital link in the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Keeping the watershed clean is essential for the clam and oyster fisheries in the estuary downstream. The region is a great reminder for how all of Florida’s lands and waters are interconnected. #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild @insidenatgeo @natgeo @natgeoimagecollection


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Carlton Ward Jr

Traversing the salt marsh of Waccasassa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast between Crystal River and Cedar Key. Thanks to Dack and Hilary Patriarca (@hyper.heli @500agll) for the amazing tour of the #FloridaWildlifeCorridor with @garyknell and @kimlars9 @insidenatgeo #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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Carlton Ward Jr

Here’s a wet season shot from one of my favorite camera trap spots in the Florida Everglades. My goal was to get a panther jumping over the water. But this bobcat walking down the log was a beautiful consolation. I love seeing all of the different species of wildlife that rely on the #PathofthePanther. The goal is to use the story of the endangered Florida panther to inspire the land conservation needed to save the Florida Wildlife Corridor or and keep the Everglades from being cut off by development from the rest of America. @fl_wildcorridor @natgeo @insidenatgeo @nature_org @ilcp_photographers #floridawild #keepflwild


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Carlton Ward Jr

Photo by @CarltonWard | A juvenile coyote trips a motion-sensing camera trap on a cattle ranch in the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Coyote populations have expanded throughout Florida in recent decades and are now present in every county. Eradication of wolves and clearing forests for agriculture in the eastern US reduced competition for coyotes and created more of their preferred rangeland habitat, allowing eastward expansion from the Great Plains starting in the 1940s. Some people see coyotes as invasive pests threatening livestock and wild game, while others see them as beneficial — controlling rodent populations and filling the ecological niche of regionally extinct red wolves. Eastern coyotes are larger than their western counterparts, possibly due to hybridization with remnant red wolves. Florida panthers are know to prey on coyotes and observations suggest that coyote populations have decreased in areas where the panther population has recently recovered. #PathofthePanther #Coyote #FloridaWildlifeCorridor #KeepFLWild @FL_WildCorridor


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Carlton Ward Jr

While cattle ranching can be a source of environmental problems, such as clearing rainforests and introducing cattle to lands that never had grazers, ranching in Florida can be a land conservation solution. In a state under constant pressure from development that converts 100,000 acres of native and agricultural lands to rooftops and roads every year, the remaining farms and ranches protect green space essential for wild ranging species such as the Florida black bear and Florida panther, and vital habitat for dozens more. Well-managed Florida ranches can support as many endangered species as adjacent public preserves. There is also growing recognition of the role ranches can serve in preserving and cleaning water for the Everglades and other watersheds that provide nearly all of the drinking water for Floridians. 4G Ranch, in Pasco County north of Tampa, is the site of an innovative public private partnership where wetlands are filtering reclaimed urban water and recharging the underground aquifer at a rate of 5 million gallons per day. This photo was selected as the cover for the 2019 Florida Ranches Calendar. You can get your from the @carltonwardgallery in Tampa or FloridaRanchesCalendar.com. Shot during my #PathofthePanther project with @NatGeo @InsideNatGeo. #Florida #Ranch #Water #FloridaWildlifeCorridor #FloridaWild #KeepFLWild


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