Meet the Gator Boys

January 11, 2012

After a busy Sunday I slid onto our leather sofa with the intent of finding a thirty minute show to watch for mindless entertainment. What I found instead was a reality type show called Gator Boys.

Animal Planet's Gator Boys in Action

Nuisance alligators in South Florida neighborhoods are not new and, although I’ve seen other shows where gutsy individuals go out and capture them, this one was different.  

When one of the Gator Boys donned a  wetsuit, snorkel and mask and entered the water in the Sunday night episode, I was truly taken aback. I have never seen or heard of anyone going underwater to trap an alligator. What if that gator is 10 feet or more? He can eat you, or rather clamp on to you and take you on a death roll that I’m pretty sure you won’t survive; that is unless he has clamped on to a limb and rips it off during the roll, and you manage to get away and receive medical attention pronto!

The Gator Boys capture these nuisance alligators then take them back to their park where they perform shows for visitors.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I think taunting alligators for a live audience (and for money) is pathetic.  Maybe you can learn something about the creatures this way, but why not learn from biologists out in the field, or in a natural habitat for “lost” gators? Why should animals be slaves to humans thirst for entertainment?

Since development has so encroached on nature that we have alligators in our backyards, it’s no wonder we need services like those offered by the Gator Boys.  Now if only they would find a place to release those  beloved gators, I might become a true fan.


Free Alligators

April 19, 2010

Why pay to see alligators when they will pose for free?

Why pay ticket prices at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm?   Viewing alligators is a freebie in this state.

Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, just northeast of Orlando, is a new discovery.  A six mile hike revealed 16 alligators sunning themselves on the banks.  Unlike at the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, this time I didn’t have a car to jump in if the alligator looked my way.   I felt uneasy, particularly around the two larger ones. From snout to tail, they were all of 9 feet and 10 feet long.   

Meet Big Boy, as I unaffectionately titled him.  I do however like the addition of the flowers to his back.  Maybe he’s a she, and she’s in love, or just worn out.  It is Spring mating season after all. 

Toward the end of the hike, I spied this Fat Boy, looking completely worn out and unable to heave his fat body anywhere, much less my way.  Did he just eat one of those big Sandhill Cranes, or a small pony perhaps?

 

Copyright 2010 Barbara von der Osten


Alligator Spying

April 9, 2010

Shortly before moving to Florida, I heard of three separate fatal alligator attacks.  One that stood out includes a young woman out for a jog who takes a break and dangles her feet over a waterway.  You can imagine what happens next.  This, in my world, is the stuff of nightmares.  I would rather go scuba diving with ten sharks than encounter one alligator. 

A short paragraph tucked inside the local newspaper reported that a small dog had been snatched from the bank of a retention pond in a new housing development in the Daytona Beach area.  I immediately called my brother who is in charge of several projects in that same area to warn him about this rogue alligator.  He actually seemed bored with my news.  “Barb,” he says, “alligators are everywhere.  They move through the drainage pipes in the retention ponds.  I see them all the time.”  My first thought was how can Floridians be so casual about these creatures.  My second thought was that it was only a matter of time before I would see one for myself.

It happened one day while driving around the Cape Canaveral area and discovering the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Established in 1963, the National Refuge covers 140,000 acres and is home to “more than 1,500 species of plants and animals.”  Within the Refuge is a scenic drive, Black Point Wildlife Drive, where, at certain times of the year you can see certain types of birds, such as Rosette Spoonbills, as well as a variety of other wildlife.  It is a beautiful seven mile drive along a dirt road with designated stops along the way.  It was on this drive that I saw my first free-roaming alligator.  Five or six miles along the drive, I looked over at the narrow waterway.  There he was, sunning himself without a care in the world. I stepped out of the car.  

It’s odd the first time you see an alligator, particularly an alligator not behind a cage or fence, having open access to you.  He could scramble up that bank and take me down with him in a matter of seconds.  Yet, he seemed more interested in the warm sun than in me.   Just in case, though, I prepared to flee back inside the open car door the second he looked or moved my way. 

That wasn’t the only alligator I saw that day.  And I’m sure there were many more if only I had looked for them.   According to the Refuge website, there are several thousand alligators within the Refuge itself.  All sizes.

Alligators are not beautiful, but the more I observe them the less ugly they become.  I’m not throwing caution to the wind however.  They still eat people on occasion. 

A fun website, which also is very informative on the subject, is Living With Alligators.  The section on Staying Safe should be required reading for all Floridians, and visitors alike.

I can now start my list of 50 Things to Love About Florida.  Number One on the list: Alligator spying.