Photography Gator Project

It’s been a while since I’ve walked the 3 miles of a local park with a camera. I hadn’t realized it was gator breeding season but certainly did while walking.

The experience reminded me of when I first would kayak the Suwanee and Santa Fe Rivers with my camera loaded with black and white film.

My kayak was 12 ft long and the first time I felt the bottom of my boat scrape over a bumpy log below the surface of the water, I was breathtaken when a 14 ft alligator emerged a few feet away. About the size of the gator pictured on the left. Their tails are powerful — as are their jaws.

It wasn’t a log beneath the surface but a large ridged gator tail. After that, I always told a friend when I was going kayaking alone. Just in case.

In the slideshow below you’ll see a larger gator sidle up and nudge a smaller gator (we thought was female, but we don’t really know). The smaller alligator was missing a front leg. Who took that?

There was a yawn — some kind of demonstration by the larger alligator illustrating it does not seem to have an epiglottis. I speculate an arm or leg would just slide into its belly unblocked.

As for mating season, the pair of gators just sat side by side for quite some time. We left.

There’s nothing like having kayaked (not always intentionally) with large alligators. And having completed graduate degrees at the “home of the Gators” makes one a real gator fan. It’s been a decades-long project taking photos of alligators. It makes one very observant. A tail in tall grass is always attached to something. As are small eyeballs sitting barely above the water line. As Thursday says to Morse in “Endeavour” (Acorn TV), “Mind how you go.”

Yesterday, as I walked past some large (apparently eating well) 16 ft alligators lounging on the side of the trail, I truly wonder at people who have walked down to the canal behind their Florida homes just to rinse a pot in the water. You read about such situations frequently in the Florida newspapers. Next thing you know they’ve lost a leg or an arm. Or worse. I always wondered why would you approach a water’s edge where alligators lurk?

I am shooting these photos either from the safety of an overlook and/or with a 300mm camera lens.

Mind how you go.


  1. Hmmm… seems I’ve encounterd a few little snappy dogs at my heels when out cycling on country roads. Terrifying really. Someone could get hurt!


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