Okefenokee Alligators – Tolerant, Not Tame

Alligator stretched out on a long in the sun; holly branch with red flag lichen in foreground. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com. iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/41386758

The Okefenokee Swamp presents the adventurer an impressive number of alligator encounters. Large gators often line the edges of Okefenokee’s lakes, like Billy’s Lake, Minnie’s Lake and Big Water. These gators rarely pose a threat to humans, and more often than not they dive into the water before you even approach too closely. But at times they will allow some real close-up shots. (The alligator in this series of photos was very reluctant to leave its warm sunning log.)

Alligator stretched out on a long. Middle Fork Suwannee River, red canoe trail. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

In early spring, when the waters are cool and the sun is warm, they may stay upon their basking spots and allow some really close approaches. But don’t mistake their tolerance for tameness. Even though the gators look huggable, they are not pets and the Okefenokee is not a petting zoo!

In my many visits I have had no real concerning close-calls. Only once, while photographing a pod of babies, did a female alligator approach rather than evade. Female alligators will protect their young and nests, so it is best to stay clear of an angry momma.

Alligator stretched out on a long. Middle Fork Suwannee River, red canoe trail. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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