After the “click” of my camera shutter, this alligator opened his eyes and looked at me. He apparently hears pretty well from those little sensors right behind his eyes.
Biking Shark Valley in the Everglades yesterday, I saw at least 200 large and menacing alligators. Another biker reflected, “I don’t know how the wading birds coexist with their predators here.” I agree. In fact, I am amazed that the tourist fatalities are not more common. I had to alert a chatty, unaware lady that this gator was walking toward her, only about six feet away. Moments later, another woman posed for a photo a few feet from another gator, ignoring the 5 meter rule from the National Park Service. Not me, I use my 200 mm lens and constantly keep a 360 degree watch.
As this Everglades alligator and I made eye contact, I could not resist the photo opportunity of its serpentine shape in the water. Thanks to my Nikon 200mm lens, I was not as close to this dangerous predator as it appears. I am still very glad that it stayed very still in the water while we looked each other over. It is used to seeing tourists, dozens of them who like to stop on the bike path and point and take photos. And fortunately, the habitat is full of birds and fish and frogs for the gator to eat. What I like about this photo, is that it seems like life pauses for a moment when the viewer looks at the gator, and the gator looks back. The composition is both natural and simple, with the serpentine shape showing the eye a path through the frame.
Alligators and large wading birds I expected on my bike ride through Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. The crocodile was definitely a surprise! Shark Valley is located in the northeast quadrant of the Everglades “river of grass,” the mostly fresh water drainage from Lake Okeechobee. Alligators thrive in fresh water or estuaries with a mix of fresh and salt water, while crocodiles are salt water creatures — mostly found further south in the Florida Keys. Crocodiles are aggressive and are known to attack humans within striking distance. How very lucky that I saw this croc from a safe distance from the observation tower ramp. My guardian angel was on duty!
Stay tuned this week for more photo highlights of wildlife in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.
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