Alligators Adrift

American Alligator

Here is a link to the video of the hundreds of gattors gathering at the Deep Hole.

Although the field trip to Mayakka State Park started off bumpy with us getting lost and all, the results were incredibly exciting. I am not used to seeing wild animals outside of zoos and what not so when I saw two live alligators not in cages was quite a sight. And then another larger one! AND THEN ANOTHER SWIMMING IN THE WATER!! If you can not tell I was pretty excited.

American alligators are the species that preside in the Mayakka State Park. These monsters can grow up to 15 feet in length….let’s stop for a minute to fathom that length. I am about 5’1″ That means that 3 of me stacked on each other. Yikes. It can weigh up to a thousand pounds as well. No matter what way you spin it, alligators are prehistoric monsters from the deep. There skin is “armored” with embedded bony plates called osteoderm and they have spikey tales that extend from their bodies. Their snouts are long and contain upward facing nostrils at the end, allowing them breathe while the rest of the body is underwater (the more typical way people spot alligators is by spotting their nostrils and eyes popping out of the water).

Where we were spotting these beasts is called the Deep Hole. Now, I was interested in learning more about alligators and how they came to be in sarasota and what not but in my research I came across an article about a mass exodus of alligators that gathered at this very spot.

A little bit about this Deep Hole, it is about 130 deep, which I did not believe at first because the spot is so narrow, and it is about 200 feet across (Maybe this is a different spot in the park lol).

According to author Thomas Becnel, when he visited the park, hundreds of alligators roamed the waters and sandy shores. From little to big these beasts were just about everywhere. He described the scene as, “the dark backs of all those gators contrasted nicely with the light wings of a huge flock of white pelicans”. The Deep Hole only allows 30 people to visit the site everyday in order to come see the alligators.

Back to just alligators now.

These monsters (in a friendly sense) that live around us feed on birds funny enough, which prompted me to wonder if they feed on the types of sea birds that lounge around with them on occasions.

Alligators do in fact feast upon birds, but I could not specifically find if they eat any specific species of birds. All in all alligators will tear apart anything that is thinks could become its’ next meal.

Overall, I found that going to Mayakka State Park was incredibly informative. Alongside being informative, I found it to be relaxing, recharging, and very educational. I loved being able to experience wildlife up close and personal for a change. Ask the others that were in the car with me, when I saw the alligators I freaked out. I plan to return to do some painting and sketching soon hopefully!


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