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.
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 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.