Like many other people, I've
been fascinated by reptiles and dinosaurs since I was young. I started
reading about them
when I was a child (heck, I read a lot about everything then). Of course, this interest would cause me to find large reptiles
even more fascinating. I was raised in the Northeast U.S, in the Catskill/Appalachian/Adirondack mountain area (I was very lucky.) It might seem that the temperate climate there might have prevented any exposure to large reptiles. This wasn't exactly true. I'd caught some large snapping turtles there. Funky, nasty-looking, and ill-tempered as they are, I still enjoy seeing these, specimens of the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). I was very young when I read a book about a particular snapping turtle, Minn of the Mississippi, by Holling Clancy Holling (1951). This book is still worth a look, for the illustrations alone. There are all kinds of natural history observations, and sketches, throughout the book.
It would only be natural to
be fascinated by other large reptiles living in the U.S., and that, of
course, would include alligators. The US does also have a
native crocodile, the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), with
a very limited range.
Whenever I read about the American Alligator, I read about how they'd once been prolific throughout their range, but had
been hunted to near extinction.
I grew up, and I ended up living in Texas. Texas sure wasn't what I thought it was before I moved there. Well, I did happen to move to where I'd be living at sea level, right near the Gulf of Mexico. Over the 20-plus years I've lived there, I heard stories of the alligators, and heard evidence that they were making a comeback. Then, Brazos Bend Park opened, and I went there. And saw LOTS of alligators! Very cool.
Some years later, I have these web pages, and I thought it might be interesting to go visit them again, and share that with whoever might see my webpages. So....
May 4th, 2001. I took a ride not too far from where I live, where I saw this (1. click to enlarge) :
Well, it did turn out to be "interesting"! I had taken a day off (I've got vacation time, ok?), and decided to see if I could drive down to Brazos Bend State Park (about 50 miles from home) and find some alligators. If you'd like to see what I found, click on one of the following links to see video clips. These all have sound, too. The sign in the picture above says, "BEWARE-ALLIGATORS EXIST IN THIS PARK. DO NOT FEED OR ANNOY. STAY AT A DISTANCE." One of these days I'll have to invest in a better digital camera. Click on the images below to see them larger.
2. 3. 4. 4b. 4c.
(2)One 'Gator (flv video 1241 kb) (3) Another 'Gator (flv video 788 kb) (4) 'Gator Etiquette (flv video 966 kb)
5. 6. 7.
(5)A playground? ( flv video 1018 kb) (6) A smaller 'gator ( flv video 2146 kb)
29, 2001 I
went out to visit the alligators at Brazos Bend again. It was raining intermittently,
so the big reptiles weren't out much. I did see a couple, though, and a
few other things. I made a small clip of one of the gators. Click here
to see it.(flv video 1,856 kb)Two
images from the clip are below (figure 8 and 9). Click
on these to see them larger.
I did an earlier "take" of the clip. It shows why I don't have a job doing TV commercials, or TV shows, or movies; acting of any kind; or even showing my face in public. In my defence, I'd like to say it seems to me that the important--that is, dangerous--element of a human/alligator interaction is proximity. That is, an alligator 100 yards away is harmless, even if it's 50 feet long. So, not approaching the large-toothed creature seems like the most important point. You'd have to approach the danged thing to feed it, anyway. If you're curious, you can click here to see the clip. (flv video, 464kb)
September 08, 2001. I went back.! This time, though, I was doing the first of two saturdays of volunteer training. Yes, I'm going to be working as a volunteer at the park. There is going to be a lot to see there, and possibly a lot of work. I met a very nice group of people, senior volunteers, park staff and fellow trainees. The day flew by. After the training, I grabbed my video camera and went back down one of the paths to "capture" some of the alligators we saw (there were lots of them today!). I took some footage(.flv 453kb fig. 10)from the top of an observation tower at the park. While I was up there, I was able to see another gator.(ram 963kb fig, 11) Neither clip has any sound.
10. 11. 12.
September 15, 2001--Ok. I like alligators. You should, too. Their species is one of the oldest on earth. They've existed for millions of years unchanged for all that time ( Unlike dinosaurs, which actually may still exist--but as birds.) They're one of the few top-level predators remaining alive in Texas. I saw this mounted skeleton of an 8-foot-long alligator in the Visitor Center at Brazos Bend State Park. This is something that most people don't get a chance to see. I took some pictures (fig. 12) Click here to see a sequence showing the skeleton from the top. (flv video, 833kb) And, click here to see a sequence showing the skeleton from the side. (flv video, 701kb)
In this picture, I actually look like I belong at the park, don't I? ---------------
September 23, 2001.Um, have I mentioned that I think alligators are pretty cool? Of course I have! Maybe I haven't made this clear. Actually, I'm not doing this to make anyone believe they are interesting. I do this because I already think that they are. Alligators are not typical reptiles. They are among the largest living reptiles. They have a 4 chambered heart (other reptiles have 3 chambers), and they protect their young for up to two years. This time, I was fortunate enough to encounter a litter of baby alligators (fig.13), along with their mother...or at any rate, an adult alligator who was very protective. I'd already heard of her...interactions with some of the park staff. The water level was still high at the park, so the water came up very close to the paths. When someone approached too close to her brood, the mother would hiss, and/or slap the water with her tail or jaw (by slapping with her head). At this point, the prudent person leaves the area. At Brazos Bend Park, the alligators have the right of way at all times. I approached to about 15 feet, and then let the video camera do the work of zooming in closer. The mother alligator kept a close eye on me, anyway. Here is a video clip of the alligators and their protector. (flv video 747kb)
OCTOBER 07, 2001 While making the rounds, we received word that a large alligator had crawled up onto the path, and was almost blocking it, forcing people to walk around it (figure 14). Well, this is a hazardous situation all around. For one thing, park visitors are supposed to leave the alligators right-of-way at all times, and are supposed to stay at least 30 feet away from them. Evidently, some of the visitors were ignoring this rule (there are signs everywhere). We rode over in one of the John Deere "Gators" and sure enough, the creature shown in the picture was there (I'd estimate this to be around 10 feet long.) We were able to coax it into the water. That wasn't the most interesting part. No...that was the much larger alligator who was in the water about 20 feet away. That one had to be at least 12 feet long. It was HUGE! It leisurely turned and slowly swam out parallel to, and at the pace of the 10-footer. I'm sure I could have easily ridden on its back (if I'd had a sudden attack of foolishness). It dwarfed our gas-powered "Gator", that's for sure.
I later heard that both of these alligators had been on the path...forcing people to walk around them. What I don't understand is WHY these people haven't the sense to just go the other way. I've got to figure out a way to carry a video camera with me all the time...or at least get a better digital camera. What a sight!
be re-visiting the park as soon as I can (well, pretty often, since I'll
be working in it.) and I'll be adding more pictures to this page when I
get them. I just get this odd feeling when I think that to the larger alligators,
I might appear to be moving food. I think of how long their kind has been
around, and how many things their ancient eyes might have witnessed. That
is, if there is such a thing as genetic memory.
If you'd like to know more about the park follow this link:
Brazos Bend State Park
Here are a few links to more information on alligators. There's a LOT of it out there. The reason is, of course, that ALLIGATORS KICK ASS!
Adam Britton's Pages 1
Adam Britton's Pages 2
Fish and Wildlife Page (Text)
Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species
to go to Alligators at Brazos Bend page 2.
Click here to go to Alligators at Brazos Bend page 3.
Go back to my home page, Welcome
Go back to the See the World page.