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When COVID-19 hit, the Palmer Trinity High senior got tired of being cooped up, so he began hiking in the Everglades.
Whether it’s on land or in the water, he says being out in the wild has changed him forever.

Luca Martinez: “I was walking through crystal clear waters with these aquatic plants all around me, and I thought, ‘I have to share this world.’”

The swamp came alive in a way he never dreamed.

Luca Martinez: “The place is so misunderstood. We’re taught that it’s dirty, that the water is murky, it’s all black water, and that’s just not the case out here.”

Now, he lives to explore, and on social media, he invites everyone along for the ride.

Luca has more than 890,000 followers on TikTok and almost 200,000 on Instagram.

Luca Martinez: “I never thought to make reels or TikToks, but that’s the way I’ll get my age group to watch, through these short cinematic videos with the type of music they like.”

His videos are stunning. It takes time and luck to get the perfect shot.

Luca went out every weekend for a year to catch this barn owl in flight.

He was in the right place at the right time to witness this moment of thousands of tree swallows filling the sky, and he loves to get in the water, carefully watching and recording alligators in their natural habitat.

Luca Martinez: “Some of those shots are my favorite because it really shows the way these alligators live.”
Whether it’s a trip to Big Cypress Swamp to find rare ghost orchids or spending the night under the stars in a hammock strung between cypress trees, he wants to inspire people to get out and experience natural Florida.

Luca Martinez: “It’s like no other feeling.”

Luca’s work is so popular, he’s now being asked to do presentations at schools and symposiums and was recently featured on the cover of The Everglades Foundation Magazine.

He likes the attention, since it’s a way to make people aware of the danger of encroaching development.

Luca Martinez: “The swamp will change you. It’s just a different kind of wild. It’s a wild that requires your attention and your closer look. If you give this place your time, if you go out there, pretty incredible things will happen.”

Luca says he’ll continue to scout Florida’s wild places. As he starts work on a new documentary, he hopes it will inspire the next generation of conservationists.