GATORS

Text and Photographs By

Bob Paty

This Article May Be Disturbing To Some People

Despite Their Docile Appearance They Are A Ruthless Predator


For twenty five years while living in East Central Florida, I have been photographing outdoor scenes and wildlife. Needless to say, I have come in contact with more alligators than I would care to enumerate. When I first started doing wildlife photography in the central Florida area, people would ask me what my favorite subject was. I would say, probably alligators and flowers, because they were the only subjects that would stand still long enough for me to photograph.

I've always had a fascination for alligators, not because of their beauty or their photogenic qualities, but because, regardless of their appearance, they are one of God's creatures.

How many alligators have I photographed over the years, probably hundreds. Newcomers to Florida are fascinated just to see one alligator sunning, when they make Blackpoint Wildlife drive on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I have seen literally thousands!
On many occasions I have been fortunate to witness the ruthless behavior of alligators in the wild. Many times I have been lucky enough to have my camera along to document the situation. But usually situations occur so quickly that I cannot photograph them.

One instance occurred while was riding my bike, coming off Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. I heard the unmistakable squeal of a wild hog in distress. I finally was able to see where the sound was coming from. At first, all I could see was the head of a large alligator partially submerged in the water. Then the water swirled and I could see a wild pig trying desperately to escape the jaws of the alligator. The gator had hold of the right hind leg and occasionally the animal made a desperate attempt to escape and was able to get a foot hold on the bank, but the gator would drag it back into the deeper water immediately. Each time this occurred the pig would emit a bloodcurdling squeal.

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Alligators Sunning In Tosohatchee State Reserve

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