An Alligator Encounter

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The Fakahatchee Strand/Everglades 10,000 Islands NWR definitely delivers beautiful birds and scenery.

It also delivers dangerous wildlife.  You cannot be out and about in this area without also keeping your wandering eyes to the ground for snakes and alligators.  Nowhere.

I parked my car in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park’s Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk parking lot.  In the pond alongside the parking lot and highway, there is a good chance of seeing the alligator that lives there. 

This day, yep, s/he’s there.  I walked at a distance around the alligator and pond, taking some shots.

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American Alligator

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Mind you, I am zoomed in on a 70-200mm lens attached to a 1.7x teleconverter, so know I did not take an unsafe chance with that photo above.

I continued walking around and alongside the pond and alligator.  It had not moved, so I took some close-ups.

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I continued down along the pond to check a couple known bird perches, then turned around to go back to go wander down the boardwalk.

Walking back, I kept my eye out for that alligator and found s/he had moved, in a direction not good for me.

The next photo shows s/he had moved closer to the embankment of the road pass-through to the second parking lot where you see my car is parked.  The boardwalk entrance is behind my car and the first parking lot is to the far right and front of the pond.

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Alligator and My Car

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At this time walking from the big parking lot to the right are three guys in a laughing conversation, heading towards the alligator.

Like out of a movie, I watched the alligator slowly move to the embankment and begin to climb out….

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I could see the guys weren’t paying attention and hollered, “Watch out, alligator!”  The guys stopped and started backing up when they saw the big alligator coming out of the water.

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“Big ‘Ole Gator”

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The alligator also stopped and laid down.

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“Advertising for the Sign”

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At this point, I was a bit nervous.  The guys were getting closer to the alligator now to take cell phone photos, including selfies.  I told them that alligators were fast, they shouldn’t be so close.  “We know,” they said.

Now, I just wanted to get around this scene and to my car.  I walked the farthest point around the road with those three guys between me and the alligator and quickly made it to and inside my car.

When I looked out my car window, the alligator had lowered back into the pond, but was still on the surface, while the guys were standing there marveling about the photos they took.

I am quite thankful nothing bad happened, but it certainly could have gone wrong for those guys.  As I was driving down the highway, it struck me I’d forgotten to go down the boardwalk.  I decided there’d have to be another day and time, lol, I’d had enough danger for the day.

Someone here in Florida recently told me, “Gators do not attack people.  Gators attack stupid people.”  Sounds about right.

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62 thoughts on “An Alligator Encounter

  1. Nice Donna! When we were Florida over the last few years at one particular refuge they had signs that stated “if an Alligator comes at you hit them on the nose.” I always thought that would make it worse! And one well known national motel had a pond that sometimes had an alligator in it.

  2. YIKES!!! Your pictures are amazing and I am so relieved to know you were using a telephoto lens. The alligator is a magnificent creature but too dangerous to be around. The risks people will take to get a selfie are unbelievable. Once I saw some tourists stand on the top of a parapet on a castle wall to get a selfie. If they had lost their balance and fallen off…

    • Alligators are very quick when they lunge forward and run! They can’t run far but 15 ft is far enough to get at someone that is unexpecting. I want the shot but not that bad!!

  3. Wow – great story and great pictures! It reminds me of when our daughter lived in Tallahassee and we used to go down to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, south of Tallahassee on Apalachee Bay. We were walking a trail where we had seen a huge alligator, and knew there were others around. Our daughter’s misbehaving dog got off her leash and ran into a wooded area off the trail. Becca went chasing after her, and finally retrieved her, but it was pretty scary, trying to save Lily from herself. Could have ended up much worse for all.

    • Thank you, Susan! Some of the trails and dirt roads alongside canals I’m riding down here can easily have an alligator over or alongside the path/road. People take their little dogs along these trails and it makes me nervous, I’ve seen gators lying right in the grass. Yes, yours could have been much worse, how scary!!!

    • Thank you, Hans! I bet he was promised a big ole meal if he helped advertise the sign, make people pay attention. We rode by today, a gator was sleeping alongside the parking lot. Just laying there! 😳 I wonder why there weren’t any cars parked near it?!! 😂

  4. Glad you made it safely back to your car, Donna. You were right to be so cautious and smart to at least try to warn the guys that were clearly not being cautious. There’ve been plenty of tragic stories about people who didn’t take gators seriously 🐊.

  5. It’s a good job that you were there to warn them (and handy for you to use them as a human shield to get back to your car – good move!) I’m also wondering if “Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park’s Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk” is the longest parking lot name in the world? 🤔

    • Thanks, Mike! You gotta strategize sometimes! 😉 It gets even more confusing because down the highway, the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park ends and the Big Cypress National Preserve begins. I always wondered why the boardwalk was named Big Cypress when it wasn’t in the NP park. 🤔

  6. One of the best ways to do field photography is being cautious and think of safety first. If you get totally absorbed on shooting a picture, most likely that you will forget about the surrounding at that time. Always plan your shooting before you do it. This is just an advise. You took great shots, Donna. 🙂

  7. Scary moment Donna, but it gave you some lovely shots. Just reminds me of our encounter with a similar Australian reserve where Crocodiles lived. Eyes wide open, and every time a bush moved or lizard moved the grass we both jumped. Ha Ha! Thankfully we also came to no harm that day.

    • Thank you, Ashley! There’s a few trails I’ve walked down with trees/brush between me and the waters, and I’ll suddenly hear squawking and intense splashing. Scares the heck out of me every time! I know someone just became dinner. 😳

  8. Some awesome shots here! Very well done! I’m glad nothing bad happened for the group who were doing the selfies – still, it seems like they took some real chances there.

    • Thank you very much, Jo! I surely thought I was going to call 911. The bad thing is, when stupid people get away with such close encounters, they will do it again without hesitation.

      • Very true. A wise teacher training tutor once told me that some people refuse to learn by being given information and end up getting taught by experience. Let’s hope they think about it later.

  9. Ugg, I’ve seen similar scenarios and know these folks are often seeking an adrenaline rush. And the one(s) you see usually aren’t the ones you should be worrying about. Nice captures of the gator.

    • Thanks Ellen! Yes, it’s those hidden ones to watch out for! One of the dirt trails I walk is popular with people who walk their dogs on a leash. Are they crazy?!! I had just passed a gator in the brush and came upon an elderly couple walking their small dog, not even paying attention.

      • Crazy is not the word that comes to my mind. We see that dog walking a lot a few places we go, and some who will have the dog off leash. I sure don’t want to be there when that goes bad, or with their toddler. Ugg.

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