Can you believe how North Carolina had eight (severe) shark attacks in just three short weeks? I’ve been going to the beach regularly my whole life, but this makes me seriously reconsider my pastime.
I think the thing that is really frightening is that all of these attacks were in shallow water. I mean, who’d have ever thought that a shark large enough to sever a limb would – or even could – be swimming in three feet of water?
So, with all these shark attacks in the news, it got me thinking about other creatures with big, sharp teeth that lurk in water, and of course, my mind came to alligators.
Today’s Throwback Thursday tale won’t be from the Way-Back Vault, but rather, it’s something that happened not too long ago. Remember last month when I told you about What Happens in Florida Stays in Florida, and in that post, I mentioned my recent sighting of the alligator at Sam’s Club? I told you then that that was a story for another day… and today’s the day.
Now, in case you didn’t realize it, Florida is actually a giant swamp. (Yes, really.) A lot of the state used to be under water (even in my lifetime), until engineers devised a way to fill in the water holes and build on them. Unfortunately, that’s one of the reasons we have so many sinkholes here. So, per our state’s law, when someone builds a structure on what used to be swampland, they must provide a certain square footage of watershed on the property. As such, we have watersheds in front of just about every commercial property I can think of. (Some people might refer to a watershed as a retention pond.)
A couple of years ago, I dropped my sister off at Walmart then I drove around the parking lot until she was ready. During the few minutes she was inside, I drove by a ditch (which was not their official watershed) that had filled with rainwater, and I noticed something moving. Now, keep in mind that this ditch was three feet away from the parking lot! Well, if you guessed the thing I saw was a gator, you’d be correct. A small alligator, about five feet long, crawled out of the ditch and walked in front of my car!
(That’s where my friends up North usually gasp in horror, but it’s actually not that uncommon.) I sped back to the front of the store to pick up my sister so she could see, but by the time we got back, we just saw his tail as he was going back into the water. Unfortunately, it was nighttime, so the photo I took didn’t turn out.
Anyway, my point is that when I have friends visit from somewhere other than Florida, if they want to see an alligator, I generally point them to Walmart or Sam’s Club where I see them most often. Which brings us to today’s story…
A couple of months ago, Michelle and I were at Sam’s Club. As we pulled in the parking lot and past the watershed, we spied a large alligator (about 13 feet long). I thought it would be cool to blog about it if I could get a decent photo, so we parked and started walking to the watershed for a closer look. (Don’t worry, it was fenced in.) As we crossed the aisle in the parking lot, the gator was sunning himself on the far bank. He was quite handsome and regal with the sun glinting off his fangs back. I was so excited to be able to get a good photo of such a large reptile.
So as we neared the fence, the sun was shining something fierce. It just so happened that we both looked down for only a split second because it was so blindingly bright, and when we both looked back up, our gator was gone! Not only had he run quite a distance to get back into the safety of his watery home, but there weren’t even any ripples in the water where he entered!
Seriously, it wasn’t more than two seconds that we each looked down, and he had to have traveled 30 feet to get to the water’s edge! I was of course overcome with disappointment that I couldn’t get a good photo, but more than that, I was amazed at how quickly and stealthily he moved! It sure made me appreciate that chain link fence between us that much more!
So to conclude, I apologize that I didn’t get any good photos of my friend, but so that I don’t leave you empty handed, I’ll instead share a photo of a creature I took at Blue Springs a couple of years ago:
Let’s talk: Would you be comfortable with only a fence between you and a 13 foot long reptile in the wild? Do large creatures reside outside your Walmart? Did you have a clue alligators could move so quickly?