How to Survive an Encounter With an Alligator
Don't panic, don't thrash, and when all else fails, bop it on the head
I'm a freshwater biologist working in the southeast, so I seem to have a close encounter with a snake or an alligator at least once a month. But this one really shook me.
I was standing in the middle of the Ochlockonee River in north Florida with my 30-pound weight belt, attempting to measure the depth and speed of the water.
I was struggling with an unwieldy depth rod, paying more attention to myself and the equipment than to my surroundings.
Suddenly, I felt that I was being watched. I looked up, and directly upstream was an alligator, looking right at me. Based on the size of its head, it was likely about five feet long—big enough to kill me if it wanted to.
I started moving slowly sideways toward the bank while keeping my eyes on the alligator. But when I was halfway there, it went completely underwater.
I couldn't see the alligator because the river is almost black. I picked up my pace and—very happily—made it to the bank.
This article appeared in the May/June 2019 edition with the headline "Later, Gator."
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