Alligator Right-of-Way

Excerpt from my March 12, 2015 Okefenokee nature journal.

Passing by a large American Alligator in a canoe; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 12, 2015. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at Dreamstime.com.

As one leaves the more open waters of Billy’s or Minnie’s Lakes in the Okefenokee and enters the cypress forests and hammocks, the channels become considerably narrower. While there aren’t as many alligators in these tighter areas, occasionally a large specimen might be patrolling the water. This begs the question: how do you safely pass a large gator in a little kayak? On the left, or on the right? The answer: let him choose!

While padding up the Middle Fork, my daughter and I encountered a particularly large bull gator swimming in the narrow channel, his tail swishing back and forth as he cut through the water ahead. And although he was headed in the same direction, we were gaining on him. How would we pass him? He spied us from the corner of his eye and slowed a tad as we came alongside. He was more than half the length of the canoe. I took some close up shots and a video as he slowed and allowed us passage. So close. He could easily have been touched with the oar; but we dare not try.


iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30254723

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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