Swamps, Bayous, Marshes, oh my! What’s the difference?

For those who are unfamiliar, it is very easy to lump together swamps, bayous, and marshes. While they may seem similar at first glance, they do have a few defining characteristics. 

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are low-lying areas that are overly saturated with water, both permanent and seasonally. They typically contain hydric soils and aquatic vegetation. It is not uncommon for wetlands to have extended periods of dryness, but its water table is typically at the surface long enough to support aquatic plants each year. 

Wetlands are considered one of the most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems in the world. They occupy an important transition zone between land and water and provide a habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. They play a critical role in amphibian breeding grounds. There are many positive aspects to wetlands. They are known to reduce flood peaks, serve as natural filters, control erosion, and recharge and discharge groundwater.

What is the difference between swamps, bayous, and marshes?

Swamps, bayous, and marshes all fall under the category of a wetland. While they are often viewed as interchangeable, they each serve a different function

Swamps

swamps bayous marshes different Cajun Encounters

Swamps are defined as forested wetlands. They are typically next to larger rivers, including the Amazon and Mississippi, as they depend heavily upon their natural water level fluctuations.  Their water can vary, often including fresh, brackish, and sear water. Swamps are comparable to lowland forests, but the main difference lies in the water. Swamps typically have deeper standing water. They are also wetter for longer periods throughout the year.

 Swamps are often characterized by the dominant type of tree that can be found growing there. These trees have adapted over time in order to survive in standing water and constantly saturated dirt. An example of these trees are cypress, cedar, and hardwood. These trees are often the names of swamps. For example, you may come across a hardwood swamp, according to National Geographic.

Bayous

swamps bayous marshes different Cajun Encounters

Bayous are characterized as small, sluggish waterways. These marshey outlets often take the form of anabranches, a river or stream that diverts from the main channel of the water course and rejoins later downstream.Their currents have the ability to reverse, resulting in them carrying in brackish water. These outlets are often found in lowlands or swamps. Their water flow is generally so slow it is almost unnoticeable to those viewing it. As a result, they have a tendency to become boggy and stagnant. Bayous can be found criss-crossing across most of Louisiana. 

It is believed that Bayous gained their name from the Native American Choctaw Tribe. It is thought to originate from the word  “bayuk”, meaning “small stream”. No matter the origin, the word bayou was first used in English in Louisiana, which is why it is typically associated with cajun culture.

Marshes

swamps bayous marshes different Cajun Encounters

A marsh is characterized by its consistent flooding of water from one source or another. Marshes are typically freshwater sources, and they often exist in areas with poor drainage. This can include stream beds, lakes, and pods. Due to their constant state of wetness, their soil is extremely rich in nutrients. As a result, they have the ability to support a wide variety of plant and animal life. These plants have the ability to bind to the muddy soil, allowing the to slow the flow of water.  

Since saltwater marshes can be found along oceans, they have the ability to be tidal. As a result, there are three kinds of marshes: tidal freshwater marshes, tidal saltwater marshes, and inland freshwater marshes. Tidal freshwater marshes are often characterized by regularly occurring tidal flooding. This allows for an increase in nutrients, resulting in a more fertile and productive ecosystem. Tidal saltwater marshes are flooded and drained by saltwater, leading them to contain decomposing plant material which result in a decrease in oxygen levels. This allows for hypoxia, which produces the notorious “rotten-egg” smell associated with these bodies of water. Inland freshwater marshes are found where the water table is very high, and their characteristics tend to vary depending on the location

swamps bayous marshes different Cajun Encounters

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Invasive Species in the Honey Island Swamp

Invasive species are defined as non-indigenous organisms that negatively alter any new environments. These species have the ability to adapt easily and reproduce quickly. While they can have beneficial effects, these invasive species often cause ecological, environmental, and/or economical damage. These species can involve a variety of living organisms, ranging from plants and insects to fungus and bacteria.  

How are They Spread?

Invasive species spreading is typically caused by human activity. These non-indigenous species are often brought in with a purpose. For example, invasive species can be used as a form of pest control in many areas. However, these species can also be introduced through pets or decorative displays. These individuals often do not know how to handle these species, resulting in them releasing them in the wild. The spreading of these species can also be unintentional. Boats tend to carry aquatic organisms on the bottom of their boat or on their propellers

Invasive species can thrive in different environments for two main reasons. One being that they outcompete native species for food. Another reason is due to there being no predators that hunt them. Unfortunately, many of these invasive species can destroy habitats, putting other animals at risk. 

Four Invasive Species Found in the Honey Island Swamp

Out of the world’s 100 worst invasive species, there are four notable invasive species that reside in the Honey Island Swamp

1. Nutria

invasive species Cajun Encounters
Image credit: National Geographic Photo Ark

Coypu, more popularly known as Nutria, are large, web-footed rodents. They typically grow to between 17 to 25 inches long, ranging in the same size as raccoon. They resemble a mix between a small beaver and a giant rat.  

 Nutria’s ability to eat approximately 25% of their body weight and their rapid reproduction rate are a major risk factor to any environment that they call home. As a result, they are categorized as an invasive species. Nutria are not just physically invasive to their own environments. They host several diseases and parasites, including tuberculosis, tapeworm, liver flukes, and nematodes. As a result, many bodies of water have become contained by Nutria. This is a risk for anyone or thing that is swimming or drinking in these same areas.

2. Apple Snails

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Apple snails, otherwise known as ampullariidae, consist of a family of large freshwater species. They possess the ability to rapidly alter the ecological makeup of whatever environment they are introduced to. This is a direct result of their rapid eating styles and rapid growth rates, categorizing them as an invasive species. 

Apple Snails are considered opportunistic eaters. They can feast on a variety of things, including vegetation and smaller snail species. This can result in a drastic change in nutrient dynamics. Apple snails can change with the seasons, surviving in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. This allows them to lay eggs in a variety of locations, making it nearly impossible to contain them.

3. Wild Boar

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Perhaps one of the most loved animals on the Cajun Encounters Tour is the wild boar. Unfortunately, they fall under the category of invasive species. Wild boars are typically bulky built and short in stature, possessing short and thin legs. Their heads take up to one-third of their body’s entire length and showcase a mouth full of well-developed canine teeth. As omnivores, their diet is highly versatile. They typically consume up to 4,000 calories per day.

Wild boars are considered one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world.  Their wide range, high numbers, and adaptability is why they are considered invasive.  Along with these attributes, wild boars are known to host at least 20 different parasitic worm species and multiple parasites. These diseases not only affect wild boars themselves, but also humans and other animals.

4. Water Hyacinth

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Contrary to popular belief, water hyacinth is not a native Louisiana plant. While they are commonly found in multiple areas throughout the state, they are considered an invasive species. The water hyacinth consists of dark green, waxy leaves connected to a bulb-shaped petiole. Their roots have the ability to extend for 2-3 feet beneath, allowing them to start a completely new plant. Their size varies, ranging anywhere from 3 to 12 inches.

This plant is known for creating dense floating carpets on ponds, lakes, and bayous.  Ultimately, they block the sunlight from penetrating the water’s surface. As a result, submerged plants are often killed and oxygen levels decrease. In addition, their decaying leaves often drop off into the water. This results in an increase in sedimentation rates in the waterway.

invasive species Cajun Encounters

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Alligators in the Honey Island Swamp

While travelling down the Honey Island Swamp, guests are guaranteed to encounter a variety a species, including pigs, birds, and deer. One of its main and most known inhabits, however, is the large aquatic reptile known as the American alligator. Those travelling with Cajun Encounters are able to experience these creatures first hand and are able to see all of their characteristics up close.

Appearance

Head shape and color plays a major role in distinguishing American alligators from the American crocodile. Alligators tend to possess a broad, rounded snot and when their mouths are closed their lower teeth are no longer visible. They are covered in armored plates known as scutes and have vertically flattened tails. Colors can vary throughout adult and juvenile alligators. Adult alligators are often dark grey in color with a lighter colored underside, and juvenile alligators use light colored strips on their sides in order to camouflage themselves with their surrounding environment.

Contrary to popular belief, Alligators are not green in color. This misconception stems from the environment alligators are found in, typically involving green algae and floating vegetation that can stick to their backs. In terms of length, female alligators are usually 10 feet or less, but males do have the ability to grow larger than that.

Behavior

Alligators are typically opportunistic feeders with diets that involved prey species that are often abundant in numbers and accessible in nature.  Juvenile alligators are known to primarily feed on insects, amphibians, small fish, and other invertebrates. Adult alligators feed on slightly bigger prey, including fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals, and birds.

 

Alligators are ectothermic, otherwise known as cold blooded, and they regulate their body temperature by staying in sunny areas with warmer water. They are the most active in areas where the temperature reaches between 82 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the temperatures drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, alligators stop feeding, and by the time it is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit they are completely dormant. During the colder times of the month, they are often tucked away in burrows, but they do occasionally emerge to bask in the warm weather.

Threats

The main threat that the American alligator faces in the destruction and degradation of wetland habitats. The Honey Island Swamp works hard to ensure that these reptiles can live freely and safely by protecting approximately 34,869 of its 70,000 acres by making it government sanctioned as a permanently protected wildlife area.

honey island swamp Cajun Encounters

Book a tour with Cajun Encounters today by visiting www.cajunencounters.com or calling 504.834.1770 or begin your walkthrough New Orleans by visiting neworleanslegendarywalkingtours.com or calling 504.503.0199

Tour the Honey Island Swamp

Geography

Honey Island Swamp is one of the most natural and untarnished habitats in the United States. Located in St. Tammany Parish, this marshland earned its name from the swarms of honeybees found near the surrounding areas. It is bordered by U.S. 11 on its north side, the Pearl River on its east side, Lake Borgne on its south side, and West Pearl River on its west side.

Honey Island Swamp spans over 70,000 acres, measuring in over 20 miles long and 7 miles wide, with 35, 619 of those acres’ being government sanctioned by the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in order to protect the local wildlife that thrives there.

The Wildlife

The Honey Island Swamp is rich in wildlife and is the home of many different species, including but not limited to: alligators, wild boars, black bears, racoons, nutrias, owls, eagles, snakes, turtles, and, of course, fish. Alligators can often be seen lounging on the banks and bathing in the sun. The most common sightings include red wolves, white tail deer, and wild boar, but only a select few have been able to spot the elusive Florida cougar. Birds are often seen tangled in the trees as visitors drift by underneath, including Yellow-crowned Night Herons, White Ibises, and Anhinga.

Considered a trademark of Louisiana culture, Crawfish often attract their fair share of attention to this marshland, but the wide variety of fish keep people coming back. Fishermen can often find an abundance of flathead catfish, bluegill, sunfish, largemouth bass, and buffalo fish under the water of Honey Island Swamp.

The Plant Life

Along with animal species, the Honey Island Swamp possesses a wide variety of plants, including poisonous and nonpoisonous. Large Bald Cypress and Birch trees assist in creating much-needed shade and shadows on the water throughout the dense forest. Spanish Moss is seen everywhere, spreading its tendrils throughout the murky tea-colored waters.

Honey Island Swamp Monster

According to Louisiana folklore, the Honey Island Swamp is home to its very own cyprid, referred to as the Honey Island Swamp Monster. The myth describes the ape-like creature as 7 feet tall, covered in grey hair with red or yellow eyes, and footprints consisting of three or four webbed toes.

How did the monster end up in Louisiana? Legend has it a train wreck involving a travel circus resulted in a group of chimpanzees escaping into the swampland, forcing them to adapt to their surrounding areas. The first claimed sighting of this bigfoot-like creature was by wildlife photographer, Harlen Ford, in 1963. The myth, however, did not fully form until 1980 when a reel of what was believed to be video evidence of this monster was found in his belongings. Strange footprints found in 1974 only fueled the legend, cementing the Honey Island Swamp Monster as an interesting part of Louisiana folklore. While there have not been any recent recorded sightings, that does not stop the speculation of this legendary monster’s existence and whereabouts.

Looking for a little adventure? Come see the beauty of Honey Island Swamp and its variety of animals and thriving plant life yourself. Book a tour today online or call 504.834.1770!

How Littering Affects the Pearl River and Honey Island Swamp

Cajun Encounters Tour Company’s owner, Jeff Rogers, grew up on the Pearl River and knows how important it is to take care of the land that takes care of you. Last month, Jeff and his captains took advantage of the slow time due to COVID-19 and spent the day cleaning up the river. They were joined by Jolene Cruzan with the House of Blues Foundation Room.
The Honey Island Swamp is nestled peacefully between U.S. 11, Lake Borgne, the Pearl River, and the West Pearl River. It is one of the most pristine swamps remaining in the United States. The 70,000 acres is home to a variety of wildlife including alligators, wild boars, raccoons, owls, snakes, turtles, nutria, bald eagles, and even back bears. Thousands of people visit the area each year along the Pearl River, hoping to catch a glimpse of an alligator or other elusive form of wildlife. Unfortunately, with people there comes littering.

Littering continues to be a large problem in the Honey Island Swamp and along the Pearl River. From small items, such as bottles and candy wrappers, to large items such as water heaters and tires, the discarded items of someones adventure is a stark reminder of the dangers for wildlife, and the people living along the river. The people who live along the river, and the wildlife who call the swamp home, rely on unpolluted water for survival.

Plastic items that enter the river can have a detrimental effect on the wildlife that live there. If an animal eats even a small piece of plastic, their bodies turn that plastic into harmful toxins. Since so many of the animals in the Pearl River are used for human food (crawfish, fish, alligator, etc.) these toxins are then consumed by people causing illness. Animals are also strangled on a regular bases by discarded six-pack rings, plastic bags, and other plastics.

Littering also consists of improperly discarded food waste and other organic materials. These items can cause increased algae blooms which deplete the oxygen in the water leading to health and safety issues for the wildlife living there. The littering of food and other edible items can lead to more aggressive animals and more animal attacks.

Litter also blocks storm drains and draining systems, which can lead to increased flooding risks in an area already prone to flooding due to naturally occurring weather events such as heavy rains and hurricanes.

As the discarded trash flows down the river what isn’t caught up along the way becomes part of the nine billion tons of litter that ends up in our oceans every year. Have you ever wondered how long it takes this litter to go away? Here’s a general idea.

• Plastic bags- 100-1000 years
• Plastic bottles- over 450 years
• Aluminum cans- 80-200 years
• Glass- glass can take up to a million years to fully decompose.
• Cigarette butts- 10-12 years
• Plywood- 1-3 years
• Painted Wood- 13 years
• Cardboard- 2 months
• Lumber- 10-15 years

We would love to have you come visit our swamp and enjoy the best that nature has to offer. All we ask is that if you pack in in, please pack it out. Help us ensure that the Honey Island Swamp and the Pearl River can be a place for future generations to enjoy.

Cajun Encounters Rated Top Swamp Tour by Travelocity

Cajun Encounters’ Award Winning Swamp Tour is one of the "Top Things to do with kids in New Orleans," as featured by Travelocity on December 30, 2019.

As Danielle Braff writes, “You’ll be on a flat-bottomed boat in the swamp, where you’ll spot and learn about alligators, who will be friendly as long as they’re not threatened. This is true Louisiana.”

West Pearl – Pristine River in Jeopardy

Peter A. Boese

As the communities up-river in Mississippi continue to forge ahead for the construction of a dam they don’t need, I contemplate the possibility of the loss of the Pearl River System down-stream in the state of Louisiana. I am proud to state that I work for a company that operates an award- winning eco-tourism business – taking people from throughout the nation and beyond into the pristine Honey Island Swamp. Earlier this season, the company hosted a Japanese film crew on a tour, and they advised that this experience was the highlight of their tour of the South. This unique eco-system has something for everyone; I expected the film crew to comment on the alligators, but it was the abundance of beautiful birds that caught the eye of the cameraman. The National Audubon Society ranks this ecosystem one of the best in the South for observing a wide range of bird species.
pearl river eco-system eco-tourism preservation Cajun Encounters
Let’s also consider the people who work on the river. It is not just the local fisherman, but several businesses in the tourism industry operate eco-friendly tours showing an authentic old growth cypress forest to interested visitors from throughout the globe! Many local residents have made careers supporting this important eco-tourism industry that is vital to the preservation of this endangered eco-system. In my opinion, the Pearl River System is priceless and needs to be protected!

Meet The Coasties Behind Your Boat Tour

When you’re in a Louisiana swamp, that life vest better work.

Philly has duck boats. Massachusetts does whale watching. In the Florida Keys, you might go on a snorkeling trip. But here in Louisiana, we do it right with swamp tours.

Innocent enough. If you’re boarding a tour boat to search the bayou for alligators, it seems like your biggest danger is, well, the alligators. And as long as you stay in the boat, you should be fine, right?

At least that’s what I thought.

“Fire, flooding, malfunctioning equipment, structural issues within the boat, faulty life jackets…” Elton Morris, a Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) for the U.S. Coast Guard, quickly ran through a rather threatening list of potential hazards we could encounter when stepping off the dock.

Cajun Encounters coast guard inspected Cajun Encounters

But that’s his job: to see every potential for danger and negate it. I met with LTJG Elton Morris and Chief Warrant Officer Mark Senna on a sunny November day at a boat launch to walk through the steps of a Coast Guard inspection. As a mere civilian, I had no knowledge of what goes into that Coast Guard Certified sticker. What I did know was that thousands of tourists gladly take their lives in their hands every year when they lean over the sides of a tour boat to greet alligators (those gators, by the way, can reach 10 feet long and weigh over 500 lbs). So I arranged to meet two Coasties in person at Cajun Encounters, one of the largest, highest-traffic swamp tour companies in Louisiana, to see for myself how the Coast Guard ensures these boats are safe for the tens of thousands of tourists who look forward to seeing alligators, raccoons, and wild pigs by boat, in their natural habitat.

Enter Elton Morris, whose 12 years in the Coast Guard included an incident with a Liberian boat that was leaking toxic gas; and Mark Senna, who has served the Coast Guard for 16 years in Cape Cod, Boston, Puerto Rico, and now, the Louisiana Bayou.

Your boat captain knows them, even if you don’t.

“People don’t really know what we do, since we work directly with businesses and industry.” Elton was ducking down to check out the life vests. But behind the scenes, these guys are one of the main reasons you can board a boat, bob out into a murky bayou whose toothy gators are waiting just out of sight, and know that you’re actually quite safe.

In fact, the Coast Guard inspects every single commercial vessel that seats 7 or more passengers, from the smallest swamp tour boat to thousand-foot container ships. And they do more than just check for life vests on that yearly inspection: they carefully examine life rings, check the structure itself for weaknesses, test out the equipment, and quiz boat captains to make sure they’re up to snuff. Sometimes the inspection even includes a man overboard drill (an exercise that is no doubt performed with dummies. I was still relieved, as the only person on board who had no real purpose being there, that today’s mock-inspection would include no such test of our captain’s abilities).

I noticed Elton examining one of the life jackets from every angle, brow furrowed. We’ve seen some companies try to fix their own life jackets, even sometimes filling them with cheaper material that makes them ineffective. He explained that to a trained eye, it’s easy to check for that sort of thing by pressing the life jacket and applying pressure to ensure it’s the correct filling.

They’re an ally to the tourism industry.

Cajun Encounters coast guard inspected Cajun Encounters

One might assume that the Coast Guard and boat tour companies are at odds. Especially at a time when the general public seem increasingly wary of law enforcement, a tour operator may be less than thrilled at the idea of men in navy jumpsuits investigating every square inch of their boat, the means to their livelihood.

But Mark emphasized that the Coast Guard’s goal is not to impede industries or get boats off the water, but to help companies keep their passengers and employees safe. “Our number one goal is safety: to protect the families taking these tours, and the crew. This is their workspace.” Any issues that don’t put anyone in immediate danger earn a citation until the problem is corrected. And in a majority of cases, there’s nothing malicious going on: boaters and tour companies who receive a citation were often unaware of the problem, and simply want to find the best solution.

And rest assured, a Coastie performing a routine boat inspection will be armed only with a hammer (smaller than the one you got from Home Depot), a flashlight, and little else.

So what should you look for when you take your next boat tour?

Be aware of your surroundings. Look for the Coast Guard certified sticker, which should be displayed somewhere on the inside of the boat. And if you don’t see it, feel free to ask your boat captain if the boat has been Coast Guard inspected (if there are more than 6 paying passengers, it’s required by law). They’ll be able to show you the latest Certificate of Inspection,which is required to be on board.

And yes, this boat is up to code.

Cajun Encounters works closely with the Coast Guard to ensure all of their boats are inspected on a yearly basis.

No one thrown overboard. No holes in the bottom. Life vests are the right amount of squishi-ness. But do keep your hands and feet inside the ride, please. The Coast Guard can only do so much.

How A Few People Are Saving Louisiana’s Wetlands

Living along a disappearing shoreline, perpetually at risk of extreme flooding, New Orleans residents are painfully aware of the risks that come with living in a city that’s almost entirely below sea level. Protecting the coast itself, and the natural habitats therein, is a huge part of protecting the communities that live there. The task of preserving Louisiana’s wetlands poses complex problems, and requires multifaceted solutions. One small non-profit with a devoted volunteer following, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF), has taken on the challenge.

Lake Pontchartrain covers 630 square miles of southeastern Louisiana, and is only one piece of what is known as the Pontchartrain Basin: a network of wetlands that support a unique variety of plants and wildlife, as well as a thriving fishing and tourism industry. Unfortunately, Lake Pontchartrain and the surrounding wetlands are threatened by pollution and coastal land loss, both of which endanger the diverse plant and animal life unique to the wetlands, and make our communities even more vulnerable to devastating floods. The LPBF was founded to protect the wetlands and the many plants, fishes, and wildlife that live there.

Understanding the Problem

Well, more accurately, the many problems.

Take a look at Lake Pontchartrain’s troubled past for an idea of what we’re facing:

  • The lake used to be the site of extensive oil and gas drilling. Even after the drilling ended, oil and gas structures were left in the lake to deteriorate.
  • For 60 years, the lake underwent shell dredging, which took a harsh toll on the ecosystem.
  • Due to lack of education and knowledge around wastewater management, small businesses and residents have released harmful pollutants into the rivers.
  • Urban development has led to paving over hundreds of acres of wetlands, exacerbating flooding problems.
  • The cypress swamps, hardwoods, and native species have been greatly diminished by logging.

Thanks to all these levels of human intrusion, the entire wetlands habitat is at risk. And because the wetlands serve as a natural sponge for rainwater, that means we’re putting our own communities in greater danger of flooding – that is, if we don’t actively work to correct the trends.

The Solution

Well, again, it’s not that easy: there are many solutions. That’s where LPBF comes in.

  • Since 2001, LPBF has monitored the water quality of the lake on a weekly basis, and to this day is the only organization that routinely tests the water and measures pollutants. They test the lake in multiple sites for salinity, temperature, and other measures that demonstrate the overall “health” of the lake.
  • LPBF also partners with businesses to educate them on proper handling of wastewater. To date they’ve partnered with over 800 local wastewater treatment plants, which have now significantly reduced the amount of contaminated water flowing into the rivers.
  • LPBF has been a pioneer of “green infrastructure” in the area, a process that incorporates absorbent, grassy areas into the city as an effective (and literally “green”) solution to overflowing rainwater. For example, concrete canals are being replaced with grass-lined ones, and green spaces are being built next to parking lots to naturally absorb runoff.
  • The Director of LPBF’s Coastal Sustainability Program developed the Multiple Lines of Defense Strategy, a framework for using both natural defenses (such as barrier islands and marshes) and man-made protections (including flood gates and levees), in combination with wetland and habitat restoration, to create better hurricane protection. Louisiana’s State Master Plan now uses this strategy to protect and improve the coast.

What You Can Do

Join the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to help protect the wetlands. LPBF is always looking for help to raise awareness at local festivals and events, and participate in litter clean-ups. Become a member or volunteer.

Join LPBF

Make a donation. Even a small amount can go a long way to supporting the LPBF, and protecting the environment.

Donate

Make positive choices for the environment. Consider the environmental impact of your next vacation. Support local eco-tour companies that share your concern for protecting the habitat. If you’re planning a New Orleans trip any time soon, take a guided tour of the Honey Island Swamp, where professional boat captains share their knowledge of the ecosystem and wildlife. Our staff members also take part in cleaning up the swamp and surrounding area on a regular basis to keep our swamp healthy and our gators happy.

Book an Eco-Tour

Take a trip to the lighthouse. The LPBF has created a museum highlighting local environmental issues, and the actions that they and other organizations are taking to solve those problems. Impressively, all of this information has been condensed into a beautiful lighthouse on (where else?) the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Take a trip to the New Canal Lighthouse Museum to see everything they’ve done for the area, and take in the beautiful views – it’s a museum experience like none other!

Why We Choose to be Eco-Friendly

You may not want to jump into that thick, green blanket of the Honey Island Swamp, but many rare species call our Louisiana swamp home. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of critters like the snapping turtles, herons, lizards, snakes, and of course, gators, that make up this delicate ecosystem.

Our specially-designed swamp tour boats allow us to share the beauty of this unique environment with visitors and locals alike in a peaceful way: we believe that by providing guided eco-tours, we are not only giving our guests an unforgettable experience of Louisiana, but also inspiring them to notice the amazing natural world around them, and help to preserve it.

Eco-Friendly Swamp Tours Cajun Encounters

Why do we choose to be an eco-friendly tour operator?

As a locally-owned and operated, family-run company that values the natural world around us, it is important for us to give back to our community and to make it a better place. We worked hard to design boats that are perfectly to navigate through the Louisiana swamps, and that are non-disruptive to the animals that live there. Some commercial boats, such as airboats, have been criticized for creating noise pollution, unknowingly hitting sea life, and otherwise disturbing the fragile ecosystems in the water bodies they travel.

But what are we doing to protect this gator habitat?

  • Our boats are efficiently built to glide through the swamps with minimal drag and low emission engines. The flat bottom ensures that we don’t unknowingly disturb the swamp life beneath us.
  • Our employees participate in local waterway cleanup efforts, on land and in the swamps. Our boat captains are passionate about keeping the swamp as pristine as possible, and they make sure to grab any debris they see floating in the bayou.
  • As a partner of the The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation (LAWFF), we are constantly looking for ways to raise funds and provide support for specific projects and programs as well as contributions for general conservation use.
  • We limit our interactions with the gators. And not just because of those teeth! Aside from the occasional gator treat, our boat captains never handle, chase, or corral the gators. They do their thing, and we just try to catch them in action.
  • We’re strengthening our partnerships with other environmental groups and eco-friendly organizations in and around New Orleans, so we can find new ways to help protect the land around us.

Ultimately, the reason we exist is to share our love of all things Louisiana with our guests. By offering a fun, educational experience of the swamps, we like to think we’ve inspired others to take an interest in the world around them, and all the other living things that share this earth with us.

Dedicated to Making a Difference

We’ll continue to share the steps we’re taking toward a greener, gator-friendly future. Until then, we encourage you to think about the environment when planning your next vacation, and support local, environmentally conscious organizations.