Crocs 'n Gators
"There are NO alligator statues in this park:", the ranger said to the enthralled group of gawking tourists. The concrete apron and trail bordering the waterway, holding the afternoon heat, was covered with sleeping alligators. "Do not SIT on any alligator statues. If it looks like an alligator, it IS an alligator. If an alligator is sitting on a trail, THAT TRAIL IS CLOSED! Do not approach an alligator closer than ten feet!"
After touring the Shark River Obervatory area I crossed the Tamiami Trail to the northern side and took the "Buffalo Tiger Miccasuccee Indian Airboat Ride". After putting in ear plugs to protect us from the 150 decibel motor, he roared away from the dock, took a few turns, motored to an idle, swung in upon a mudbar and came to rest visibly nudging a sleeping 15 foot alligator, who responded with a bored raising of it's eyebrows. He patted it on the head, tossed a half a loaf bread in front of the jaws into which it disappeared.
Those are, I suppose, the two extremes in the spectrum of "how to relate to alligators". It is not the smiley faced, fish eating alligators I am worried about. It is those thin jawed, mammal eating crocodiles that are making a comeback in Florida. I was shore fishing in Biscayne Bay and passed signs warning tourists NOT to feed or harass the endangered crocodiles and came to a deeper creek cutting into the mangroves that really looked fishy. I was wading up to my waist into this wild feeling place when I remembered the sign. The more I thought about it the more I decided I did NOT want to feed the crocodiles, and this place might be better fished or explored from a boat. Captain Hook was NOT clinically paranoid. Tick! Tick! Tick!
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