Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Florida Gator Time

I've taken more than a dozen people kayaking on the Rainbow River to give them a good, easy taste of Florida kayaking.

"There are no gators because the water is so clear," I have always told them.

Well, it aint so! Today we were out on the river not far from Rainbow Springs State Park and another kayaker told us there was a big gator in a cove so we went in. Sure enough, we saw this 8-foot thing that I was convinced was a plastic replica because it was not moving and it was on such a clear river. My friend Bernie took this photo of me with it.

Well, as we paddled back, our other friends wanted to see it so we went back into the cove. This time, I saw the gator open its mouth and move its head! WOW! I would never have paddled so close had I known it was alive and real. Another kayaker told us she had also seen some turtles swimming in the river neaby and that there was a smaller gator with them. So, it seems, we have a growing family of gators in the Rainbow River.

For a great video of a kayak adventure with a "Ditsy Brit" on the Rainbow River click >>>

Ira Glickstein


Deardra MacDonald said...

Ira, that is definitely am amazing story! Your friend Bernie took a great picture. I would have thought that the alligator was so still and not moving because it was getting ready to pounce on the kayakers for lunch.

You took the position that the 8 foot alligator was plastic. In this situation seeing is believing! So you paddled back for a second look also a second reaction!!! What made you think it was plastic? Were you not the least bit fearful? As you got closer to the alligator the second time around, didn't it start to look real? That is before it opened it's mouth.

Ira Glickstein said...

Thanks Deardra for your comment.

I was so convinced there were no gators in clear water rivers like the Rainbow River because, in about a dozen paddles there I never saw one or heard of a gator there. People were swimming in the river at the State Park just a quarter mile upriver from that cove. Others were diving a mile or so downstream. People regularly float down the Rainbow River in tubes with their feet dangling down in the water and I have never heard of an alligator incident there.

Some wise person once said, "Don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see."

I was not fearful because I was totally convinced it was a fake until it opened its mouth and moved its head, and then, I was too busy backing away to be fearful.

I've seen several gators in my paddles in Florida over the past several years, but, until this one, all have been along the shores of murky waters. Most have been 5 feet long or smaller.

I've been assured that, so long as you stay in your kayak or canoe, and do not act panicy, gators will not attack you. If they come at your boat, rather than splash the water, which they may interpret as a wounded animal that would be easy pickings, you are supposed to slowly move away, or, if they are real close, whack your boat with the paddle to make a mechanical sound that may scare them away.

A few weeks ago, Bernie, that same friend who took the great photo in this Topic, and I were paddling in the Dora Canal and we saw a 6 foot gator on the shore. I waited downstream while Bernie paddled up to take a photo. He was about set to take the photo when the gator suddenly got into the water and swam towards him. Bernie put the camera down and paddled away. I was disappointed. I told Bernie that, had anything happened, I would have rescued the camera :^).

Ira Glickstein