Great Saurian of the Swamp

American Alligator basking on Big Water Lake; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 5, 2021. ©

From naturalist Francis Harper’s journal during his first visit to the Okefenokee Swamp in May 1912:

“​In the late afternoon our boat emerged from a densely wooded portion of the run and glided forth upon the silent stretch of the ‘Big Water.’ Here it seems that a long aisle has been made in the cypress forest, through which the gentle current of the most gentle Okefinokee flows. Its shorelines are aligned with ‘hurrah bush’ and bay, and close behind rise the stately ranks of cypress. Its deep, dark waters shelter the jackfish, the bream, and the gamey bass; here, too, one may catch glimpses of the great saurian of the swamp whose manner, since he has become acquainted with the hunter’s modern firearms, is far less fierce than his looks. The Big Water appears to foster the growth of big ’gators, for those we saw could have been little less than twelve feet in length.”


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