Classic WFSU Ecology Documentaries

In 2017, we began uploading WFSU programs from the 1970s and 80s to Youtube.  This included a few programs on local ecology, giving us a look at many of the natural spaces we cover today as they were years ago.  Watching these, you’ll see some of the same issues we still cover now, such as the Apalachicola water wars.  You’ll see at least one person we spent time with in 2017- local herpetologist Dr. Bruce Means.

We’ll continue to add documentaries to this page as our staff uploads them.

Subscribe to the WFSU Ecology Blog to receive more videos and articles about our local, natural areas.

Apalachicola River and Bay

Watermarks (1978)

The Apalachicola River is many things to the people of our area.  It’s a biodiversity hotspot.  It’s feeds the Apalachicola Bay estuary, which is the economic bedrock of Franklin County.  Its water fills tupelo swamps, making Wewahitchka the tupelo honey capital of the world.  And it provides a wealth of recreational opportunities- kayaking, fishing, or hiking some of the steepest bluffs and ravines in Florida.

But it’s also a river in trouble.  We’ve covered the good and the bad in this blog since 2012, when we first kayaked the river on RiverTrek.  WFSU, though, has a much deeper history covering the conflict between Florida and Georgia, and the Army Corps of Engineers, over the water that flows into the Apalachicola from the north.

In 1978’s Watermarks, we see the river when it was still a shipping lane for barges.  The Army Corps is modifying the river to help barge traffic along, but these changes could endanger the oyster and tupelo industries.  We spend time with a beekeeper and an oystering family, people who make their living off of what the river provides them.  But we also talk to who see economic opportunity from barge traffic.

Florida Naturally: Apalachicola River (1984)

Here we get a tour of the upper river, from the Jim Woodruff dam on through the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines area.  We’ve spent some time in the area over the last few years.  Most notably, geologist Harley Means took us millions of years into the past, looking at rocks and fossils at Alum Bluff and in Torreya State Park.  More recently, Dr. Bruce Means explored a steephead ravine with us in search of an animal whose ancestors were stranded in our area during the ice ages.

Rivers and Freshwater Animals

Florida’s Rivers (1989)

In this Suncoast Regional Emmy Award winner, we explore Florida’s relationship with its rivers.  As the state’s population continues to grow, how will development inland affect water quality, and the diversity of life that depends on it?  Nearly three decades later, Florida is still wrestling with the same issues.

Dragon’s of Paradise (1979)

This is a poetic look at the prehistoric beast we often canoe and kayak by on our rivers: the alligator.  Filmed at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla Springs, and Silver Springs, it looks at our natural landscape

Seepage Bogs/ Carnivorous Plants

Florida Naturally: Bogs (1984)

Dr. Bruce Means guides us through the low areas adjacent to stands of dry, fire dependent upland pine.  These bogs are both wet and dependent on fire themselves, and are home to some of the more intriguing plants found in our area.  This is where you’ll find carnivorous plants and orchids.

We’ve covered these types of areas over the last couple of years.  And, we spent a bit of time with Bruce Means in 2017.  One was in a seepage slope, where we went in search of a new salamander discovery of his.

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

Florida Naturally: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (1984)

We head into the marshes of the Refuge with ranger Red Gidden and Robin Will, to see what secrets lie within the grass.

The Red Hills

Tall Timbers: Into the Light (1987)

Here, we visit Tall Timbers Research Station (before there was a Land Conservancy), in this exploration of the benefits of prescribed fire, and how we live with it in an increasingly urbanized world.  We still collaborate with Tall Timbers fairly often, most notably on 2016’s Roaming the Red Hills, a ten part look at fire ecology, Red Hills waterways, and our rural lands.


Florida Naturally: Tom Brown Park (1983)

Here, we take a walk through Tallahassee’s Tom Brown Park.  City parks can be important refuges for plants and animals, as our Sierra Club guide demonstrates.  In Summer of 2017, we revisited the park with the Hairstreak Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.  The shows were shot 34 years apart, but we can see the same dynamic at work.  The park is full of native plants, which butterflies and other insects make use of.

A couple of decades after this aired, Lafayette Heritage Park opened adjacent to Tom Brown.  They are connected by the Cadillac Trail.  In 2013, we had a bike/ kayak adventure in Lafayette Heritage Park.

Tallahassee Naturally: Junior Museum (1983)

One good way to tell if someone is a longtime Tallahassee resident is to hear them refer to  the Tallahassee Museum as the Junior Museum.  That’s what it was called when we visited in 1983.  The Museum is well known for many things- the Tree to Tree Adventure, animal exhibits, and the homestead.  Here, however, we hike the nature trail and explore the hardwood forest and swamps around the Museum.

But its animal exhibits are a great glimpse into the ecology of our area as well.  Aside from the guest animal, these are all critters native to north Florida.  That includes an animal we’ve spent a lot of time with recently, the red wolf.  This animal is extinct in our area, but was once the top predator here.  The Museum is one of 40+ breeding sites working to get the red wolf back in the wild.