Carlton Ward Jr@carltonward

National Geographic Explorer fighting to save wild Florida | Gallery in Tampa

http://pathofthepanther.com/

506 posts 64,421 followers 356 following

I spent my birthday checking camera traps at Babcock Ranch State Preserve, an important piece of the Florida Wildlife Corridor east of Ft. Myers. I’ve been working at Babcock Ranch because it’s where colleagues at @myfwc recently documented the first female panther north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973. She’s in the territory of this handsome male, who could become the father of the first generation of panther kittens to be born in the Northern Everglades in my lifetime. Please help me follow this story and stay on the front lines of the fight to save wild Florida from development that is consuming 20 acres or wildlife habitat per hour. Link in my bio. PathofthePanther.com. Thanks to @natgeo @nature_org @palmbeachzoo and other partners who have helped so far. #pathofthepanther #panther #floridawildlifecorridor @fl_wildcorridor #floridawild #keepflwild @natgeocreative @ilcp_photographers

Babcock Ranch
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I spent the weekend at my family’s place in Hardee County and took the opportunity this evening to fly my drone two miles west across our cousins’ ranch to check out the Peace River, which flows from headwaters in the Green Swamp north of Tampa all the way south to Charlotte Harbor near Ft Myers. The Peace River Valley, in addition to being the heart of an essential watershed, serves as a wildlife corridor connecting millions of acres of land. #floridawild #pathofthepanther #keepflwild #peaceriver @ilcp_photographers

Peace River
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Last photo panther legs. Now a gator tail. You don’t always find what your looking for, but the surprises can still be nice. I am thankful for Florida swamps and the ways they have challenged and shaped me over the past two years as I’ve chased the Florida panther with camera traps. #gator #swamp #pathofthepanther #floridawildlifecorridor @fl_wildcorridor @natgeo @natgeocreative #floridawild #keepflwild @ilcp_photographers

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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I’ve been chasing Florida panthers with camera traps for the past two years. It’s been the biggest challenge of my career and filled with lessons, such as ‘sometimes you miss and have to keep trying’. My cameras is the swamps of South Florida have suffered fires, hurricanes and curious bears. But this trap has been reset and is waiting to capture the moment, and hopefully a few milliseconds earlier in the frame. #pathofthepanther #floridawildlifecorridor #floridawild #keepflwild @ilcp_photographers @fl_wildcorridor @natgeo

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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A Florida black bear walks by a 500 year old cypress tree near Big Cypress National Preserve. I set a camera trap here for a year, seeking to show wildlife (hopefully panthers) inhabiting this remote South Florida swamp which is filled with water at least half the year. #bear #swamp #floridawild #pathofthepanther #floridawildlifecorridor @fl_wildcorridor @natgeocreative @ilcp_photographers

Big Cypress National Preserve
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Jaun Martinez and Antonio Corona (rear) rope a cow needing medical attention at the Corona Ranch near Okeechobee. The Coronas were ranchers in Cuba before losing their land to Castro. Portions of their Florida ranch are now permanently protected with a conservation easement, ensuring a future for their heritage, land, water and wildlife. This photo is featured in my 2018 Florida Ranches Calendar, which is currently being printed. #ranch #lasso #lariat #heritage #floridawild #keepflwild @fl_wildcorridor @flcattlemen @freshfromflorida @ilcp_photographers

Okeechobee, Florida
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Last week while photographing Buck Island Ranch with @grizzlycreekfilms we saw this ambitious red-shouldered hawk land on a fence post with its sizable dinner — looks like a Florida water snake. Thanks @theonlyfrogboy for help with this ID! This ranch, which is the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, supports a diversity of wildlife and science. @fl_wildcorridor @flcattlemen #ranch #hawk #keepflwild

MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center
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Caladesi Island has been an inspiration to me since childhood, since growing up Gulf Coast of Florida near the city of Clearwater amidst the most densely populated county in the southeastern US. Caladesi was, and remains, a last remnant of nature amidst a landscape completely consumed by development. I later learned that my great grandfather helped save Caladesi as a state park in the 1960s. Caladesi was the first place in Florida I pointed my lens after becoming a photographer in college, and I can now clearly see how the island has shaped my career and purpose for saving wild Florida. Standing on the north end of Clearwater Beach beside the Gulf of Mexico, it is my favorite place to watch the full moon rise above the pines as palms. #caladesi @fl.stateparks #floridawild #keepflwild #gulfofmexico #moonrise. Please follow me @carltonward for more glimpses of the hidden wild.

Caladesi Island Florida
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>> multiple photos >> Buck Island Ranch, home to the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center, is a living laboratory in the Northern Everglades west of Lake Okeechobee. Generational ranchers raise beef cattle while scientists from @archboldstation study the effects of grazing on grasslands, wetlands, water storage, biodiversity and carbon sequestration. Results are revealing the benefits of low density cattle to all of these factors. In these photos, restoration ecologist Dr. Betsey Boughton examines a sample of fish from a study wetland, ranch manager and multi-generation cattlemen Gene Lollis leads me through a broomsage prairie, he and his son Laurent rope a rebellious cracker bull, Laurent catches a stray calf, ecologist and PhD student Wes Anderson listens for wild hogs he is monitoring with radio collars. @fl_wildcorridor @flcattlemen #floridawild #keepflwild #floridaranch with @grizzlycreekfilms @bendicci @jeffreedfilm @3bearsmedia @malia_byrtus @alexjanephoto

MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center
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A male Florida panther triggers a camera trap set on a trail at Babcock Ranch State Preserve. The Florida panther is the last puma living in the eastern United States. Recovering from as few as 30 individuals, there are nearly 200 today, primarily in South Florida. In order to recover from being endangered, there needs to be two additional populations of 200 or more panthers elsewhere in Florida or the Southeast. The good news is that the Florida Wildlife Corridor still connects the Everglades to the rest of the state and country. But we must act soon to invest in additional land conservation so that the Corridor is not lost to development. This photo was captured on spring of 2017 when the swamps were dry. The water in this spot now is more than a meter deep. To see the next frame, check out @natgeotravel and stay tuned to @carltonward as I follow the #pathofthepanther for the National Geographic Society. #panther #floridawild #keepflwild @fl_wildcorridor.

Babcock Ranch
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>>swipe for more>> The first cool fall weather means saying goodbye to summer thunderstorms like this band sweeping over Charlotte Harbor and Boca Grande Pass to the Gulf of Mexico. In can be magical there when the elements collide; warm sun and sea breeze from the Gulf giving their best resistance to cool thunderheads and outgoing tides pressing seaward from the bay. #gulfofmexico #florida #floridawild #bocagrande #storm

Boca Grande, Florida
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Florida cattleman Elton Langford leads a herd of Brangus cattle across a pasture at Babcock Ranch. Ranchers need vast spreads of land to support their cattle and these same lands are essential to the survival of the Everglades and Florida wildlife. Many ranches are critical linkages connecting public lands within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. @fl_wildcorridor #keepflwild #ranch #aerial

Babcock Ranch
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Sunrise lights morning fog over a pine forest at Babcock Ranch inland of Fort Myers, Florida. I captured this frame from helicopter using a telephoto lens just as the sun was breaking the horizon. #pathofthepanther #keepflwild @fl_wildcorridor @natgeocreative #fog #sunrise #forest #floridawild

Babcock Ranch
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Most of my camera traps were water damaged by Hurricane Irma. This setup captured a Florida black bear taking the high road through the swamp before rising water overtook the trigger system and lowest flash. Black bears rely on forests and range widely, making them great ambassadors for connecting and restoring large landscapes. #swampbear #pathofthepanther @fl_wildcorridor #floridawild #keepflwild.

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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Hurricane Irma almost drowned the trailer I use as a base camp for my panther work in South Florida. Thankfully water didn’t come in the door and I was able to tow it to higher ground. A week ago I stepped out at midnight to fuel my generator, saw the Milky Way in the western sky and put my camera on a tripod with a 25 second exposure to capture this frame. The red light is from my headlamp. #pathofthepanther #floridawild @fl_wildcorridor @ilcp_photographers @natgeocreative #keepflwild @airstream_inc

Sunniland, Florida
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Here are a couple more photos from a recent shoot at Buck Island Ranch in the Northern Everglades. Owned by the MacArthur Foundation and managed by Archbold Biological Station, Buck Island research informs rangeland, wetland and wildlife management for ranches throughout Florida and the Southeast. Cowboy Laurent Lollis (@laurentlollis) is in the foreground of both photos. #cowboys #florida #ranch #floridawild @fl_wildcorridor #keepflwild @flcattlemen @natgeocreative

MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center
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This Labor Day I am thankful for Florida cattle ranchers, some of the hardest working men and women I know whose commitment to their land and way of life protects the heart of Florida from development while sustaining watersheds and wildlife corridors for everyone else. In this photo Laurent Lollis greets an August sunrise over Buck Island Ranch while gathering a herd of cracker cattle with his father Gene and fellow cowboys. @fl_wildcorridor #BuckIsland @natgeocreative #everglades #cowboy #floridawild #pathofthepanther #keepflwild @laurentlollis

MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center
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Ghost orchid blooms hang from a pop ash tree in a flooded forest near Fakahatchee Strand. As few as 2000 ghost orchids survive in the wilds of South Florida. Only a small fraction bloom each year and fewer still (maybe 1 in 100 plants) get pollinated. Exploring these enchanting swamps in the summer blooming season is one of the highlights of my year. Check out the new video linked in my bio. #pureflorida #fakahatchee #swamp #adventure #floridawild #keepflwild @fl_wildcorridor #pathofthepanther @yoloboard @pureflorida #pureflorida

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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In the flooded forests of the Fakahatchee Strand, @malia_byrtus and @torilinder helped me scout for blooming orchid sites. An inflatable @yoloboard made for a convenient platform. #swamp #adventure #pureflorida #keepflwild #floridawild #pathofthepanther #fakahatchee

Fakahatchee, Florida
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Sunrise through fog blanketing the 10,000 acre Telegraph Cypress Swamp, a central feature of the 75,000 acre Babcock Ranch Preserve in southwest Florida. The preserve protects a mosaic of deep woods and working lands that is home the first female Florida panther documented north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973. I captured this frame from a helicopter last week. #BabcockRanch #pathofthepanther #loveFL #keepflwild #pureflorida @fl_wildcorridor @ilcp_photographers

Babcock Ranch
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The light rain was falling steadily at 6 PM Friday when we met Bobby, Lou and Morgan Yates at the cow pens. The previous morning we had ridden horseback through a palm and oak hammock where Morgan had stopped to pick fruit from a wild orange tree. The late morning light wasn't great and Bobby and Morgan offered to come back and bring her traditional Seminole dress. But as afternoon thunderstorms lingered, hope of any sunset light was fading and I wondered whether we would need to try another day. Then Morgan climbed on her horse bareback and led us across the pasture toward the woods. She grew up in the saddle and carries her Seminole heritage with grace. We had fun trying to make pictures in dim dusk light and half drowned two cameras in the process. Morgan was unfazed by the rain, not surprising since she drove cattle through an actual hurricane when she was 6. I am thankful that the Yates have shared some of their world with me. #seminole #nativepride #pantherclan #pathofthepanther @fl_wildcorridor #keepflwild #loveFL #pureflorida

Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation
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Meet Malia Byrtus, here testing the lighting and focus of a trail camera in the Fakahatchee. As an intern from the University of Miami's Exploration Science Master's program, she is helping me photograph the #pathofthepanther. It is inspiring to work with a young person passionate about protecting our planet. Be sure to follow her @malia_byrtus ・・・
#Repost: Recently I've had a few friends and family members ask me what in the world I've been doing for the past two months... Well, I guess it's about time I explain. Since May I have been interning for National Geographic Explorer, conservation photographer, and awesome mentor @carltonward . For three more months, I'll be camping out with Carlton in his airstream trailer tucked away in the FL backcountry. As an intern, I assist Carlton with his network of remote camera traps located throughout southwest Florida. The camera traps are a non-invasive way to look into the unique lives of the most inspiring wildlife species we have in the United States. The Florida black bear and endangered Florida panther in particular, are animals that need vast amounts of habitat to roam and thrive in. But as human population and development expands in our state, critical wildlife habitat is taken away and encroached upon. I've been lucky enough to meet some of the people who live and work on the essential lands that connect and protect the @fl_wildcorridor , including cowboys and ranchers from the Seminole tribe of Florida. It is clear that if we can protect the wildlife corridor, then we can also protect a future for ourselves. Wild FL provides us with the land and water we all need to survive. As part of my masters degree in Exploration Science @umiamirsmas @umiamimp, I'll be creating my own individual project that uses visual media and storytelling to communicate conservation. As the internet and social media are increasingly used for advocacy and awareness, I believe they can also be tremendous tools for self efficacy and action. If there's one thing I want people to understand, it's that Florida has some of the most beautiful and diverse environments on the planet. Please join me in defending them, and never stop exploring!

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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A female Florida black bear sniffs the air while crossing a cypress strand in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. These waters are part of the Fakahatchee Strand which naturally drains the western Everglades towards Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Gulf of Mexico. Four million acres of contiguous protected land in South Florida provide key habitat for wide ranging species such as bears and panthers. Whether we protect enough of the Florida Wildlife Corridor to keep the Southern Everglades connected to the Northern Everglades will determine whether the Everglades watershed and Florida panther can be revived. #pathofthepanther #floridawild @fl_wildcorridor #keepflwild #bear #fakahatchee @ilcp_photographers @natgeo

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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Seminole Indian cowboy Adam Turtle and his dogs steer a herd on of Brangus cattle at the Brighton Reservation. I'm experimenting here using infrared photography from a camera designed to capture wildlife at night using invisible light. What do you think about the look for ranching scenes? #floridawild #pathofthepanther @fl_wildcorridor #seminole #nativepride

Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation
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Here's a glimpse of yesterday's sunset in Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where the Everglades meets the Gulf of Mexico and one of my favorite places. South Florida boasts the largest contiguous protected mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. On World Mangrove Day, let's commit to protecting and restoring more of this endangered ecosystem. Throughout the world, mangroves are critical for fisheries, wildlife, and local communities. Mangroves also help combat climate change. I just wrapped up a video shoot with @lssmedia for a short piece about my work with the @fl_wildcorridor. @ilcp_photographers #mangrove #everglades #florida #UpWorthy

Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
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It gives me hope for our planet to meet young people connected to the land and committed to their heritage. For Kane Jumper that heritage runs deeper than most. As a Seminole from the Panther Clan, he carries forward 500 years of tradition with horses and cattle and thousands of years in the land we now call America. This week, Kane is working with his family and coworkers to gather cattle from their Brighton and Big Cypress Reservations. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the 7th largest producer of beef cattle in the US, all while sustaining their culture, protecting the Everglades from development and maintaining wildlife habitat critical to the @FL_WildCorridor. @young_savage1993 #NativePride #Seminole #pathofthepanther #LivingHeritage #KeepFLWild @natgeo @ilcp_photographers

Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation
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I had the privilege of spending a few days last week with the Seminole Tribe of Florida at their Brighton Reservation documenting their fast moving cow work that is as important to Florida's agricultural economy and wildlife habitat as it is to their own culture. Seminoles descend from a Chief called Cowkeeper who acquired cattle from Spanish Rancheros around 1700. In this photo, Andre Jumper, Adam Turtle, Bobby Yates, Kane Jumper and Justin Gopherr keep their heritage alive moving a group of calves through wooden pens. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is the 7th largest producer of beef cattle in the United States. #livingheritage #seminoletribe #keepflwild #floridawild @flcattlemen @ilcp_photographers #pathofthepanther #leicacamerausa #leicaakademieusa #leicaq

Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation
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I spent two mornings with cowboys from the Lykes Ranch in South Central Florida as they rode out Angus bulls from the herd. Summer is the peak of Florida ranch work and also the rainy season. Some ranches received 20+ inches in June. Mixed pastures, wetlands and woodlands on ranches help to clean and hold water flowing south through the Everglades watershed. Spreading across 338,000 acres in Highlands and Glades Counties, @lykesbros is the 4th largest producer of beef cattle in the United States and an important partner helping to store water in the northern Everglades and protect important wildlife habitat within the Florida Wildlife Corridor. @LykesBros @FL_WildCorridor #cowboys #ranching #KeepFLWild. #leicacamerausa #leicaakademieusa #leicaq


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I love the thunderstorms that rumble off the Florida peninsula on summer afternoons. If you're in a boat offshore you can see them coming and race towards blue sky. Sometimes you escape. Other times you get soaked. The object on the horizon is a historic stilt house at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico near Tarpon Springs. That afternoon, I was able to park my boat beneath the deck of the house and ride out the storm. #floridawild #gulfofmexico

Tarpon Springs, Florida
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#Repost @theflamingomag
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From my #FloridaWild photo column: Nearshore Gulf waters are so shallow and easily disrupted, the timing of coastal tides are better predicted by the records from previous years than by moon phases alone. Welcome to Carlton Ward Jr's meticulously planned low-tide labyrinth 👉🏽 link in profile @theflamingomag .
Story & Photograph: Carlton Ward Jr. @carltonward #MustRead #FloridaWild #roamflorida

Cedar Key, Florida
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