The small baby alligators of the Florida Everglades are wise to follow their instincts and stay close to their mother, even lying on top of her. Their small size and still tender hides make them vulnerable to a Great Blue Heron or even a male Alligator. I spotted about six babies close to this parent.
A 600mm lens allowed me to capture this close-up photograph, while standing about 15 feet away. It’s wise for humans to keep a safe distance away from this dangerous creature in the wild. While they lie still most of the time, when alligators are extremely quick when they attack.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Gator. Good luck keeping your babies safe.
Wearing “camo” is in. Especially if you are an alligator and hunt for food in the wild. Alligators floating in the swamp have a natural advantage, because they resemble floating logs, and they are silent and often still. Unsuspecting fish, birds and even people swim or walk by, in close range.
This 14-foot American Alligator seen at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was cruising Lettuce Lakes early Sunday morning, beneath the nest of three Anhinga chicks. He took on a new “camo” outfit as the plants adhered to his back.
Why do alligators lie there with their mouths open wide? Pretty much the same reason that a dog pants — to cool off. They might also lie in the shade or swim, but this gaping mouth gives us a good look at the gators large jaws and sharp teeth.
While this gator casts a wary glance at me, I am quite wary of him too, and I keep a respectful distance. On a recent trip to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I learned a few new facts about the American Alligator. If he chases you, don’t run serpentine, like the wive’s tale says. Run in a straight line, as fast as you can for alligators are very quick for just long enough to catch you. (They can run at 20 miles per hour.) The jaws too are powerful (2900 pounds of force recorded), and no match for human self-defense.
The 70mm lens on my Sony a2r7 camera makes it appear that I am close to the gator than I really am. (“Kids, don’t try this at home.”) Park rangers suggest a distance of at least 15 feet. Watch behind you, too. There are hundreds of alligators in the Everglades, some hidden underwater, Any fresh water watering hole in Florida could contain one.
As the great blue heron took a giant step back, this large alligator silently swam past. The heron and the gator eyed one another, but the gator seemed to have set his sights on a school of catfish just ahead.
In Shark Valley, there is no shortage of enormous alligators, but most of the time you see them sleeping in the sun in the middle of the day. I enjoy biking the trail in Shark Valley, even though I find the 15-mile loop very tiring.
When the alligators are on the move or sitting near the path, you need to take precautions to stay away from them. If you’d rather not risk a close encounter, you can take the National Park Service tram.
I attribute this quote to the great blue heron on the left in this photo. The heron seems rather oblivious to the enormous alligator chomping on a fish right in front of him.
In fact there is a thick assembly of birds here in what remains of Lettuce Lakes in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as a result of the current drought in south Florida. This small lake is the only wet spot in the entire swamp, and the tension between these birds is evident. The white egrets are continually squawking at one other to move over and yield territory. See the two on the right with outstretched wings?
In this image, I can count 7 great white egrets, two great blue heron, a wood stork, a roseate spoonbill and two snowy egrets — one of which is sitting on the alligator’s long tail. There were many more birds in the tree and nearby in the lake. Crowding the lake and fishing aggressively, these birds are a dramatic illustration of the strain on the food supply caused by the drought.
Tomorrow I am off to Shark Valley in the Everglades again to capture some more wildlife. Stay tuned to this blog space!