The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Florida waterscapes in 2003

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It is probably accurate to say that most visitors to the Everglades are there to see one thing: alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). These large reptiles really are impressive. (A large, 60 year old alligator can be 4.6 meters, or about 15 feet long; maximum weight about 450 kg, or 1000 pounds.) While alligators in unprotected areas tend to be very shy, those in places like the Everglades or Okefenokee Swamp are much more relaxed around humans. They think nothing of relaxing on the banks of a "gator hole", while human tourists in brightly colored clothes gather around to chatter wildly and loudly.

I have observed that alligators have an intoxicating effect on tourists. When alligators are present--and in the Everglades they almost always are--tourists (who we may assume are otherwise normally intelligent people) are reduced to jabbering incoherently, informing anyone nearby about the presence of an alligator (as if a 3+ meter crocodilian could be easily overlooked), and repeating mindless comments or self-evident facts like, "whoah, a gator!", "lookee that gator!", "that's a big gator!", all the while with glazed eyes and finger clacking wildly on camera shutter buttons, taking picture after picture after picture.

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Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005