A kayaker found a problematic creature in a surprising place in November: a coiled 6-foot Burmese python on a platform off the coast of Florida.
The snake and the platform it was found on were in Florida’s 170,000-plus acre Biscayne National Park. Ninety-five percent water, the large marine refuge incorporates four different ecosystems: mangroves, Biscayne Bay and its fish, the northern part of the Keys, and part of the world’s third-largest coral reef, according to Carissa DeCramer, the park’s chief of staff.
But while creatures like manatees, crocodiles and spiny lobsters are endemic to the park, it’s very unusual to see a python there, she said.
“This is incredibly rare for Biscayne National Park,” DeCramer said. “Pythons are not aquatic animals. They can swim, which is why this python was able to make it to the platform. But they’re not regularly in open water." And they don't like salt water.
Burmese pythons are a problematic, invasive species in Florida, and have been for years. Over 2,000 reports of the pythons have been made in Miami-Dade County alone, and they’ve also been reported in numerous other Florida counties.
“The job of the National Park Service is to preserve and protect these places so that it can be the natural setting,” DeCramer said. “We want to manage and monitor any sort of invasive species.”
The pythons threaten wildlife and compete with native predators, she said. The main invasive species they’re concerned with are actually lionfish, known for being “very aggressive eaters.”
The snake— an immature female— was grabbed the next day from the platform (which was located about a half mile offshore) by a python wrangler, according to the Miami Herald. DeCramer said it was later euthanized humanely.
“I just want to really emphasize just how rare this sighting was,” DeCramer added. “It’s very uncommon to see pythons in the park. The park is very safe to visit.”
Pythons can be reported by called the park itself at 305-230-1144, or a hotline for the state of Florida, which is 1-888-IVE-GOT1, or 1-888-483-4681.
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