Guardian Mother Gator

A guardian mother American Alligator and her pod of babies in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 12, 2015. © Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at

Thursday, 2:20 PM – Trying not to disturb the exhilarating, tense moment, I whispered to my daughter Amanda in a low voice, “Momma gator has to be here somewhere.” Sure enough, in the midst of the dozen or more colorful babies, her eyes peered at us attentively from between the abundant swamp vegetation; her body completely submerged. We daringly pressed in a little closer. Cute little chirps arose from a few of the babies. Mom tolerated our approach for only about thirty seconds before swiftly swimming directly toward us and emitting a forceful release of air.

Sitting in the front of the canoe just a few feet from this upset maternal guardian, I knew what was “safe”, and what was not. This was bordering on “unsafe”, and, in fact, a bit foolish. While most gators predictably retreat or submerge upon approach, a mother gator is quite courageous and assiduous in defending her young against onlookers. So I let wisdom prevail and we backed out the canoe a bit, took a few more photos, and paddled onward.

-Excerpt from my March 2015 Okefenokee Nature Journal

iNaturalist observation:

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