What is a bladderwort

There are times you hear something and you think to yourself, “What on earth is that?”. For some of our guests taking a trip on the Swamp Boat Eco Tour that word would have to be bladderwort. It is most certainly a funny sounding word. What does it mean and exactly what is it?

Let’s examine the word itself. A bladder is a sack (of sorts) and wort is an Olde English word that means plant. This sounds simple enough, right? However, the bladderwort is anything but simple.

A bladderwort is a carnivorous plant that is found in swamps, lakes and streams. There are hundreds of different varieties of bladderworts but they all function in basically the same way. The bladders are traps that are a part of the underwater structure where the plant catches and processes its food source. Special bacteria and enzymes inside these sacks break down and aid in the digestion of its food. The staple diet of a bladderwort includes: small animals like; insects and their larvae, water fleas, mosquito larvae, crayfish and EVEN small tadpoles. How amazing is THAT-a plant that eats animals?! It sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie and we have them right here in our swamp!

The bladderwort plays another significant role in the ecosystem of our swamp. It provides a place for swamp critters to lay their eggs and shelter for animals like turtles, salamanders and bull frogs. While the bladderwort is not a main staple of any creature’s diet, there are a few animals that occasionally feed on them such as wood ducks and turtles.

If you take a trip through the swamp in early spring you will likely see “floating” plants with beautiful yellow flowers that resemble snap dragons. These are our beloved bladderworts. In the other 3 seasons of the year you will see large masses of green “plants” just under the surface of the swamp waters. That is the bladderwort when not in bloom.

Why not make a trip to the Swamp to check out these magnificent animal eating plants today? Call or go online to make your reservation. We’ll see you in the swamp!

Spring Fever

By: Elizabeth Knight

You know that feeling you get, a warm fuzzy glow, the feeling of joy and optimism, sometimes maybe a little restless and anxious, too. Winter is coming to an end and Spring is just over the horizon. Sunny days and cool breezy nights will have you aching for a day out in the sun. It’s Spring Fever and we have got the cure for you!

The Swamp virtually comes ALIVE this time of year. Flowers and trees are in bloom, the grasses are greening and the birds are singing. Our resident gators enjoy lounging on the banks soaking up the sun while visitors to the park lavish them with attention and snacks. No, not their fingers and toes, but turtle and gator food available for purchase. The wood ducks have been busy setting up housekeeping in their boxes throughout the swamp and I have it on good authority the wild turkeys are back in town.


Come on out and see for yourself what a little fun in the sun can do for your Spring Fever. We’ve got the cure for what ails you. Call or make your reservations online.

Barred Owls

Written by: Elizabeth R. Knight

One of my personal animal favorites is the owl. There is something so majestic and mysterious about this bird of prey. Their seemingly secretive nature and haunting calls in the night have fueled imaginations over the years.

The Swamp Park is home to a species of owl known as the Barred Owl. The Barred Owl is the second largest owl in North America. Found in abundance in Southeastern, US the Barred Owl has in recent years began moving northwestward to the Pacific Northwest. While some have begun to move westward their overall preference is for thickly forested swamps in the southeast.

True to typical owl behavior Barred Owls are mostly active at night, however, don’t be surprised to see one of these beauties checking you out during the light of day as you travel through the swamp on our Swamp Boat Eco Tour. If you keep your ears open there is a good chance you can hear them too. Barred owls have an extensive number of calls they use to communicate with each other, and boy do they ever.

The Barred Owl is known to be something of a home body. They are non-migratory birds and typically travel only short distances from their homes. More often than not, these owls choose natural cavities in trees or abandoned nests from other owls or bird species to call their own.

When it comes to the family, Barred Owls stick together for life, with the daddy owl taking care of mommy and babies, by hunting and providing food. Speaking of babies, it will soon be Spring and we hope to see some new owlets here at the Swamp.

The Swamp Boat Eco Tour and The Walking Trail are great opportunities to view these enigmatic creatures and so much more. Call or go online to make your reservation today.

Meet Tommy Turtle

Tommy Turtle

Tommy Turtle is an Alligator Snapping Turtle who calls the Shallotte River Swamp Park his home.  Tommy Turtle visited us last year when we were building the swamp park, taking up residence in the retention pond we built by the Birthday Party Activity Center Building.

He immediately developed a liking for Sea Bass heads, coming to him fresh off the OIFC charter fishing fleet.  Apparently he has awakened from his Winter nap and is ready for some dining on our area’s best eating fish.

The charter captains need to get to work fishing as Tommy is hungry!  Although Tommy Turtle prefers the heads, the filets will be available at the Ocean Isle Fish Company and the Fish & Wing Company in Shallotte.  Think about Tommy as you dine.

Who Needs a Groundhog Anyway

Who Needs A Groundhog Anyway

We all know about Groundhog Day. This cute, lil furry critter crawls out of his hole and peaks around looking for his shadow and promptly crawls back in. But, has anyone ever introduced you to Sammy and Sally? No, well let me be the first. Meet Sammy and Sally Snake, Shallotte River Swamp Park’s very own weather forecasters and SssSssseriously cool creatures.



Sammy and Sally have been in brumation during the winter. What is that? Well it is a similar state to hibernation. Cold blooded animals like snakes brumate during the cold weather months. Their body systems slow down-eating, drinking, etc. stops or nearly stops. When temperatures begin to rise, snakes will leave the protection of their homes in search of a nice, sunny area to warm their weary bones and grab a bite to eat.


Sammy Snake

It has been a bit lonesome around here this winter without our friends Sammy and Sally. But, here at Shallotte River Swamp Park we have it on very good authority that spring will be here before you know it. How do we know this? Well, Sammy and Sally have been spotted peaking from their homes recently. So, again I say, who needs a groundhog anyway? Shallotte River Swamp Park has some SssSssseriously cool weather forecasting snakes. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention in the anticipation of Spring, we are OPEN now Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays by reservation.

What is a Swamp? Why Should You Care?

Swamps throughout the years have commonly been looked at as a waste and a nuisance, but that just isn’t the case. Swamps are a necessary part of our ecosystem and should be respected for what they are and not just what they can do for us.

Throughout the world you can find swamps of many varieties: Saltwater, Freshwater, Forested and Shrub. Most are found located near rivers or streams and others can be found on tropical coastlines. What is a Swamp? Well, it can best be described as uncultivated, generally low-lying area where water gathers. A wetland if you will. These waters can be slow moving or still and their water levels vary with season, weather, and tides. Some swamps are former lakes or ponds, others are formed by ancient sinkholes or tidal flooding. The portion of the Green Swamp where the Shallotte River Swamp Park is located is a forested (Cypress Tree), freshwater swamp located on a river on a sub-tropical coastline. Phew, now that was a mouthful.


So why should you care about swamps? Well, swamps serve a very important role in flood protection by storing excess runoff water and often act as a natural water treatment facility, filtering water through its dense vegetation. They prove to be an essential part of our ecosystem housing a variety of vegetation and animals-some endangered. Without swamps, loss of entire species would be guaranteed.

Here’s an idea–why not come and visit a swamp and see what all the fuss is about. There’s lots to do and see.