Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suwannasaurus Rex

This little 6 footer was sunning just to the right of the Manatee Springs junction with the Suwannee River last weekend. A hundred yards away upstream along the spring run, dozens of people were happily splashing and swimming in the main spring.
The gator was enjoying the quiet solitude and sun in a gooshier, wilder area where swimmers do not go, but there is no physical barrier to prevent him from visiting the spring boil.

I was after sturgeon photos in my little sit on top fishing kayak, so I paddled past the sunning gator and across the river to where the sturgeon action was strongest. As I drifted along the bank with the current, I came across a much larger gator.
Much larger.

This one was stretched out in the water, with most of his body just beneath the surface. The Suwannee is tea colored, but clear in this area and I could see her bulk in its entirety.
I'm a fisherman, so I must exercise some restraint in my estimation to allow for fudgenicity of measurement.
My self-corrected conservative estimate is 8 feet.

What was so impressive and cautionary about this one, besides a respectable girth, is the fact that it stared me down and held its floating position while I drifted closer and closer.

In fact, when it never changed position or ducked under, I changed my course to give it even more space.

Perhaps a mound of rotting vegetation containing oval gator treasures sat in the swamp behind it ... incubating the next generation.

Whatever the reason, there was an air of territoriality in the gator's attitude and I did not care to challenge that while appearing to be a small creature atop an oddly shaped log.

You get my drift?


threecollie said...

Shudder...we often talk about what it must be like to live where the roadside ditches and water holes are full of things that would eat you. My NY mind does not encompass that concept very well.

Anonymous said...

Well, wondered why the former student in the previous post had his puppy in the boat. Looks like a tasty snack to a big Mama gator. Sounded a bit dangerous to me.


Floridacracker said...

I know. I sometimes try and imagine a place where I could throw a ball or a stick on to a pond or river and let Bear go retrieve it.

Generally, I do not do that below North GA. (Except in my very small pond after I check it)

I agree wholeheartedly. More than once I have seen pictures at other blogs with dogs aboard kayaks and I think it is just asking for a tragedy.
People make their own decisions, but I think a big gator would view a pup on a kayak the same way he would view a opossum on a floating log.

Darla said...

You do make me nervous you know? I agree about the pup in the older post....so my SIL just won some FWC lottery where he get's to go gator hunting for one day, with a guide though....it will be in Kissimme..

debbie said...

We ALWAYS give the gators a wide berth. Several years ago we were slowly cruising around Lake Talquin and a gator tried to attack our boat. We didn't even know he was there until he suddenly shot out of the water towards us. He actually became airborne for a couple of seconds. I had never seen a gator do that before. He/she sure scared a boat load of born & raised Floridi

Anonymous said...

New Word! For me, anyhow: "Gooshier" No dictionary hits, but hits on Bing & Google. Got it in context, approximately the same as the familiar to me "Mushier") Thanks, FC! -lesle

Felicia said...

The gators are very territorial these days. I was going to walk the La Chua trail at Paynes Prairie over the weekend, but when I got there, I was told that three very large gators had been on the trail. A couple of them, one of which was at least ten feet long, was walking around just off the trail. I turned around and let them have their space.

Doug Taron said...

The expression "discretion is the better part of valor" comes to mind.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am drifting with ya and you made a wise move.

Miz S said...

So...the people swimming a hundred yards away? Are they probably safe because the gators stay in the dark corners, or are they tempting fate?

Floridacracker said...

I think that will be quite the adventure. We have done a good job bringing the gator back from the brink and a little predation of our own is a good management practice.
Good luck to him.

Whew! There is a tale that should convince any kayaker to leave the pup at home and give the big gators plenty of space.
And keep your head on a swivel when in their habitat.

Guess I can't claim that one if you binged it, but I do try and manufactionate new words from time to time.

Wise move.
Spring is in the air and best not get in the middle of it.

Oh, I always do that.

Glad you came along. I need the voice of reason from time to time.

Miz S,
Technically, yes they were tempting fate.
Realistically, statisticallatackly, they were safer there than almost anywhere else in our society.

The Florida Blogger said...

I wonder if that gator held it's ground because it's grown accustom to the humans around Manatee Springs. I'm sure, as you've mentioned, mating season could very well be the reason.

I'll be up that way for a very long Memorial Day Weekend from Saturday to Tuesday. Can't wait!

Robert V. Sobczak said...

You got that right. That's a biggon.

kevin said...


Anonymous said...

Having just viewed a photo of a gator taking a bite out of a police car, yeah, I get you.

Banjo52 said...

Interesting stuff here! Found you via Julie Zickefoose. I'll be back.

Carol said...

Very good thinking. If you watch wild animals long enough you get to read some of their warning signs. I run around in an inflatable dingy when on the St Johns River. There have been several times I passed on closer gator inspection.

edifice rex said...

Eeeeeee! that gives me the willies just looking at a photo!! I'm sorry but I am a SISSY when it comes to things that can chomp me.

Aunty Belle said...

I git yore drift, an, mercy! I think yore Mama oughta switch yore laigs fer playin' wif' prehistoric monsters!!

Shiver--*what* wuz ya' thinkin'??? Want yore Katie or Emma jes' a wif' jes' a kayak a'tween them an Jaws?


Floridacracker said...

I do love it when you scold me.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Tallahassee, was told they take the gators that have been fed by ignorant humans and are too familiar and move them to Lake Seminole and Lake Talquin.Problem gators,um....maybe they should move problem humans. I've heard there were some big Gators in Talquin. Not sure I would kayak there.
I've had a gator that kept popping up while crusing in a river near Mobile Bay, then finally decided I had gone far enough and did the stare down. It was spring, so figured there was a nest nearby. Wide Berth is correct.