Monday, April 30, 2012

Big Pine Alligator

Everybody loves to be thrilled by the sight of a dinosaur.

In the Lower Florida Keys the easiest way to spot an American Alligator is to head over to Big Pine's Blue Hole and there it sits, the replacement for Bacardi the full sized alligator that choked to death on a plastic toy, tossed in the water by a thoughtless human.

There is that elemental fear of an alligator, even a little guy less than six feet long so safety signs abound at the Blue Hole.

The turtles seem to live harmoniously enough with the big predator.

The have an odd way of sunning themselves.

Unlike that other predator in my life who prefers the shade:

All in all it's a peaceful enough spot.

A good spot to sun yourself if you are the master of your domain.

And check this fish out, courting death:

How does it know that the the alligator's larder isn't empty?

The odd thing about (fresh water) alligators and (salt water) crocodiles (found further north in the Upper Keys and Florida Bay) is that they can't chew so they have to tear meat and swallow chunks whole. This means that alligators don't kill when they are hungry, but they drown their victims and store the bodies in "pantries," holes where the bodies can be wedged until the meat is rotten enough and soft enough to be torn off in edible sized chunks.

The fact is that unless you go into the water you are safe enough at the Blue Hole.

Cheyenne accidentally went for a swim once, dropping off the stone ledge of the old quarry and splashed around in the fresh water pool. I pulled her out with superhuman strength by the scruff of her very wet neck.

Another time she slipped down to the water's edge behind my back and said hello face to face with the gator. I keep her on a tighter leash than usual after that encounter.

It's a good spot to sit and commune with wild nature.

Me, my Crocs and my dog.

The Blue Hole... wouldn't know what danger lurks from looking at it.

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