Creepy Claws

What lurks beneath those waters? That question rolls in the mind as one attempts to peer through the blackwater of the Okefenokee Swamp. The swamp creatures may not be visible in plain sight, but you know they are there. You squint your eyes to look into the dark mirror, but only see the reflection of the dense vegetation and skies above.  The only clue to what lies below: a black, monster-like, scaled foot and creepy claw breaking the sphagnum-laden surface.

American Alligator foot with scales and claws; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USA. March 9, 2022 ©

The Chesser Island Boardwalk is one of most frequented paths by human visitors to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. And it usually doesn’t disappoint! Often, along the way, there are birds, lizards, insects and a snake or gator or two to view. But you have to keep your eyes scanning and searching the details. Other than the birds, the critters may not be right in the open. But a glistening scale from a slithering serpent, or a strange looking object poking from the water has to catch the eye and alert your senses to the presence of a swamp inhabitant.

I have often found a medium-sized American Alligator along the first half of the boardwalk. Being creatures of habit, I wouldn’t doubt if this is the same gator on multiple visits. On this particular occasion, his clawed foot breaking through the waters along the trail were my first clue to his presence. Being practically right on top of the gator, I got some close-up detail shots of its foot and scales with those surprisingly long claws.

Chesser Island Boardwalk; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 9, 2022.
– Cloudy with showers, high near 83 F.
– Sunrise 6:46 AM; sunset 6:33 PM
– Daylight hours: 11 hours, 47 minutes (+1m 54s)
– iNaturalist observation:

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