Okefenokee Alligator Ate My GoPro!

There she lay; just ten feet from the edge of the dock. How could I resist? A big alligator right there within reach of my action camera. I hit record and lay upon my belly, stretching my arm to full length, the camera is only inches from her snout. No doubt this would be some great, close-up gator footage! Then it happened. SNAP!!! Either she was really ticked off, or thought my camera was a free handout of food. No more camera.

Video of American Alligator with a GoPro Hero5 action camera on a selfie stick in Stephen C Foster State Park, Georgia. Okfenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. This gator lives in the boat launch canoe area near the campground. Her name is Sophie. March 16, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

Seems like a stupid idea to harass an alligator? Yes, it is. Perhaps my story is a bit of dramatization and the camera wasn’t actually eaten. But what if it were true? That was an expensive bite! Or what if it were your hand, rather than your camera that gets chomped by a big gator? But how many photographers push the limits trying to get that photo or video that will go viral? It does well to keep a clear mind and some common sense when in the field.

Wild animals are wild! Even if they seem to be laying nearby just begging for a photograph, wild animalsare not tame pets. Just search the internet for tourist deaths on safari and you’ll see nobody is exempt: a billionaire trampled by an elephant… a grandmother killed by a hippopotamus… These “accidents” don’t only take place with “dumb tourists.” A few years ago, a professional graphic effects creator filming a documentary in South Africa was killed as she rolled down her windows to capture close-up footage of a lioness… a bit too close up!

As photographers, we can become totally absorbed in our craft and forget about our own safety. Or, we might compromise our own safety to push the limits to get that viral footage. But in the end it isn’t worth it if you lose your life or lose a limb. So keep your mind focused on your surroundings and use some common sense!

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30719132

1 Comment

  1. Wow William! I know what it is like to be out where they are fairly close, just laying there! But I give them a wide distance between us and use 300mm or 400mm lenses. In some places they had signs that if an alligator gets to close and they get aggressive hit them in the nose. Somehow I would not think that would deter them, just make them more aggressive!

    Liked by 1 person

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