Thursday, 10:21 AM – After a slow paddle a few miles up the Suwannee Middle Fork canoe trail from Billy’s Lake, the overhanging cypress and moss curtains pulled off a bit and the channel opened to blue sky. The waterway became filled with vibrant green lily pads and the floating spatterdock “gater taters” tricked our eyes into thinking we were surrounded by alligators.
But soon enough, a juvenile gator caught my eye floating on a piece of rotting wood. Sitting up straight in my canoe, my eyes began to scan back and forth in the vegetation. Almost immediately I caught another glimpse of bright black and yellow stripes. An even smaller gator lay nearby. This was a true baby; probably a recent hatchling of less than 12 inches long. I pointed him out to my daughter who shared my excitement.
Knowing there had to be more, we searched and to the right, about ten feet away, there were two more… then three… then ten! With joy we began pointing out each and counting. As we pulled in our bark and parked upon the lily pads, we found more than fifteen in various poses on the lily pads and grasses.
-Excerpt from my Okefenokee nature journal, March 12, 2015.
iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30037413