Friday, February 6, 2009

BABY GATOR

Just visited Pure Florida's blog ( from my blog list) and loved his pictures of the baby alligators. It did remind me of a close encounter of my own a few years back.


I was kayaking the Loxahatchee River near Jupiter Florida and was just coming from Trapper Nelson's camp. Trapper Nelson was an amazing man that I had the privilege of meeting when I was in my 20's. The following site tells of this interesting man. (http://www.jupiter.fl.us/HistoryWeb/KidsHistory/Trapper-Nelson.cfm .)


I met him (not too long before his suspicious death) in the bank where I worked. He would come in periodically by bursting threw the doors announcing his own arrival. He was a big, booming man and for a hermit type, he was quite flamboyant. One of our tellers knew him from her childhood and he always visited with her. I would gravitate near her when he came in to learn a bit about the man. He was a one of a kind.


That day in the kayak, I had visited his now tourist destination for Trapper was long deceased. It was on the return trip that I got my thrill. I was mostly drifting when a 10 inch baby alligator came right up to my kayak and hissed its disapproval. I was entranced by the little fellow and his bravado till I remembered that alligators are excellent mothers and she would have to be near by. So I said good bye to the feisty little fellow and paddled around a curve in the river.


Ahead was a tourist boat full of passengers and they were throwing food in the water and taking pictures. What they were feeding was Momma Gator who was larger than my 10 foot kayak. It is illegal to feed alligators in Florida for it makes them lose their fear of man and they come to think of man as a food source. Not a good thing. The captain of the boat never told his passengers about that I guess for they were certainly chumming the waters with cold cuts.


For a second, the gator swung her head towards me. It was a really hot day but truthfully, I was icy with fear. In a kayak you are butt level with the water creatures. Not a confidence building position. The river was rather narrow at that point and the tourist boat took up much of the room. I had maybe a 15 foot wide escape route.


Survival overruled my desire to instruct them that feeding gators was illegal. Instead. I hollered to the tourists, "For God's sake, don't quit feeding her." Fortunately they had a good supply of food. Trying to be both non threatening and not at all like prey, I eased away from the scene to live another day.


Remember though, now that I am safely away: DO NOT FEED THE ALLIGATORS.

3 comments :

  1. I hope that you reported the tourist boat operator, since he undoubtedly contributed to the problem. I can't believe he would let his patrons do that.

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  2. When I was a teenager, I visited my grandparents in Florida. They took me on a boat tour of the Everglades, where the highlight of the tour was stopping at a Seminole Indian village and seeing the natives "wrestle" alligators and then put them to sleep. Fun time.

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  3. Kenju
    I did report it to Game and Fish Commission. Don't know what was done. It is a real problem in Florida. People feed them and then wonder why their dogs go missing or their children are attacked. Once they have been labeled as gators with no fear of humans, they are captured and destroyed.

    Betty
    One of my favorite wrestlers was Chief Jim Billie. He has a few fingers missing for his efforts. They do put on a show.

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