The young and the reckless: alligator wrestling in Big Cypress
March 5, 2013 3 Comments
Big Cypress National Preserve is one of my favorite haunts over the winter. With the water levels up and the mosquito population as low it gets, this is a good time to visit. We’ve been many times and it never gets boring. We decided to do the Loop Road Scenic Drive off of the Tamiami Trail. This is not particularly close.to anything as you are about halfway between Miami and Naples. Scenic drives can be a relative term, so we proceeded with the knowledge we might be wasting our time.
This is a 25 mile dirt and gravel road that in wet weather would be a disaster. It is not easy on the suspensions either. We drove it weighted down with kayaks because we roll like that. If you complain about the ride in a Lincoln on an interstate, you will freak out on this road so don’t drive. It will take a minimum of 2 hours to drive, so plan accordingly.
The first few miles are boring. You will begin to despair. Finally, just as the road begins to curve, you will come to a low water bridge with open vistas into the cypress forest. Park your car and get out. Do not be a jack ass and drive by and miss out. The water is absolutely clear and loaded with fish. You will see lots of birds – egrets, ibis, anhinga, herons, etc. You will see lots of alligators.
This is your view:
What you can’t see is just how clear the tannin-stained water is. If you peek over the edge of the bridge into the water, you will see alligators hanging out waiting to eat fish.
While we were admiring this view, a beat up car drove up. Out came three guys with a DSL camera, an old man and a guy wearing a wet suit and a mask. Looking suitably self-important, they announced that they were filming a show they couldn’t talk about, but that they were going to film wet suit guy getting in the water with the alligators. Troy and I shook our heads as these people were clearly not rocket scientists. Then they said to us that we should not call the police or anything (side note: there’s not a phone signal to be had for love or money here, so whatevs) and that they were not going to “molest” the alligators. What he meant by that I think was that he did not plan to have sex with the alligators, because he sure as hell fucked with the alligators. This dumb ass jumped in the water and proceeded to chase a 7′ alligator all over the place, finally grabbing him and lifting him out of the water. It was somewhat hard to believe.
Then one of them told him to say something for the camera. So he intoned, in what he felt was a voice of suitable gravitas, “The American Alligator. This animal is not dangerous. As you can see, he just wanted to get away from me.” Yes, as do we all. As do we all.
I hope someone recognizes him and he gets nailed with the $5000 fine for fucking with wildlife. The days of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when Marlon Perkins would sit in his jeep and make Jim go out and fuck with hyenas with a turkey baster are long over. It’s not really cool to mess with an animal that just wants to hang out and eat some fish. Just take a picture for the love of God.