It has evolved for over 200 million years. Some say it has not evolved so much but it has overcome and adapted to environmental changes countless times and been on this planet millions of years longer than us. It is extremely well adapted to its environment and all senses sharpened to perfection. Now we finally meet. I feel slightly nervous. My guide is right behind me and just whispered, “it is not the ones you see that are dangerous”. I am standing on soft grass and mud, I have looked in the tall grass and bushes around us, but I only see one huge alligator a few feet in front of me in the river. It is about 11 feet long and slowly moving towards me.
My tripod sinks a few inches into the mud on the riverbank and I can feel my feet slide when I move. I am nervous because any second now I need to move back fast – I just need one more shot. Closer. I can see he curls the tail and gently grab the bottom with its front feet and continue in one movement towards me. His eyes are locked on mine. Without taking my eyes off the alligator I turn my head slowly and whisper to my guide. “What is it doing now, attacking us?”…I can hear his rapid breathing when answering, “yes, in a heartbeat, let’s move back”. In the back of my head I think about an explanation we go earlier, about how to avoid being eaten by an alligator. When chased you are suppose to run in a zigzag pattern because the alligators loose speed when turning. I don’t know if I completely agree with that logic. My tactic was to be faster than my guide.
We are in a wonderful part of the world – the Everglades. A huge wetland area in the south part of Florida – a hot and humid swamp, filled with interesting wildlife. Birds, insects, snakes, manatees and alligators. You get here by driving the Tamiami trail from Miami to Everglades City. The best way to experience the area is to hook up with a local wildlife guide and venture into the wetlands with an airboat. Driving an airboat fast in the narrow canals in the mangrove wilderness is an extreme and wonderful experience – and it is the only way to move around in this area. You will get close to wildlife for sure.