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.

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