Can Alligators Snatch You Off A Bridge?


Can Alligators Snatch You Off A Bridge?

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

I was told that after Mother's Day, the last of the snowbirds will have returned to their homes up north and for a few months, a new "normal" will begin. No longer will the parks, beaches, and restaurants be as crowded. That was certainly evident in Myakka River State Park. Generally the area near where the pontoon boat tours are launched is quite busy but Friday morning, no cars were arriving and no one was milling around when I was there.

Even the alligators seemed to be few and far between. One guy was hanging near the bridge in hopes that his dashing good looks might make him a star among the Myakka visitors but since few were on the bridge to notice what a nice profile he had, he slowly closed his eyes and sank back beneath the river's surface.

It's good that he did or his feelings might have been hurt had he overheard a comment of someone watching from the bridge. The man was not familiar with alligator behavior and was nervous about his safety on the bridge. He knew alligators could move quickly. He heard that they could make lunges. "Could this alligator snatch a person off the bridge?" he asked.

"Hmmmmm," I thought, "I wonder how many scary movies this man watched when he was growing up."

Fortunately for this man's "safety," he didn't stay long to find out. On the other side of the bridge I happened to notice an alligator who had been peacefully slumbering away, begin to awaken.

As the alligator came out of his sleep, his mouth opened wider...and wider...and wider. I wondered what that man would have thought had he witnessed this alligator's "obvious" hostility and aggression. Would he have been in a mad dash for his car in fear for his life? If so, it would have been wasted energy for sure!

This alligator was just trying to cool off when he opened his mouth wide. Alligators don't have sweat glands and this is one option that they employ when they need to cool down. When that's not enough, a quick and refreshing dip into the Myakka River is always an option.

Speaking of options, wouldn't it be neat if the creative writing classes would provide pictures of the parks and wildlife nearby and then let the kids turn their imaginations loose to write stories of their own choosing to forgive a less than stellar grade on some earlier quiz?

Hmmmmmmmm.... I wonder if that alligator would have had a trampoline under the water.

Sharing Dinner With a Local


Sharing Dinner With a Local

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

Going to Myakka River State Park is always a hit and miss as to what you might see.  You might see gorgeous Prairie Irises which are toxic to humans and could cause a severe skin rash upon contact or you might see a wonderful meadow anchored by a gnarled old tree practicing some remarkable gymnastic moves among the palms.

You'll surely see some alligators and no doubt a few may even go out of their way to greet you.

Should any of the locals happen to cross your path, please be courteous and give these folks the right-of-way. t won't take them long to cross the road, return to their habitat and once more be on their way to greener pastures. Who knows...if you're real nice, they might even share a dinner with you.

Weird Things at the Weir

Wild Things at the Weir

Guest Post by Nancy Dobias

A most unusual thing happened when we met our out-of-state friends and former Ohio neighbors at Myakka River State Park.  Because they had heard so much about the park from me, they wanted to experience the park first hand.  We first took them on our favorite trail and although I wasn't hopeful we would see many alligators since the river was up, the alligators must have heard that Steve and Marilyn were visiting and of course they came out to say, "Hey!"

The landscape was as beautiful as always whether we were on this trail,

at the Bird Walk, at the very top of the Canopy Walk,

or taking in the lovely views along the weir on the Upper Lake.

It was while we were at the weir that I encountered the strangest thing I ever saw.  An alligator who had been tucked into the island grasses in the middle of the "canal," made a typical alligator croaking sound.

One of the visitors along the shoreline responded with the exact same sound.  He mimicked it PERFECTLY.  I did NOT expect anything to happen, but something did.  The alligator immediately got up from his slumber, left his hiding place, entered the water and swam to our side of the water!  When I first heard the crowd saying there was an alligator coming, I figured they meant the alligator was swimming past them, on down the "canal" and further into the lake.   I did NOT expect to see the alligator making a bee-line to our side of that water.  My instinct was to look at the man to see if he had anything in his hand that he was using to entice the alligator.   He wasn't.  It was his VOICE that was the draw. 

This man had the ability to mimic an alligator perfectly.  The alligator did not care that there were 10-15 adults clustered in front of him.  He had a "special friend" he wanted to meet.  Naturally cell phones were all aimed in the direction of that alligator.   As I watched the alligator from a safer vantage point and  through a telephoto lens, I wondered what he might be thinking.

Because our Ohio friend was an expert at wild turkey calls, he naturally decided he would try his hand at calling an alligator using his turkey call.  Although it WAS very good, it did not meet the alligator's discerning taste.

But the park DID meet the approval of our friends and former neighbors from Ohio.  They loved it.  Now, when they think of Florida, it won't be just her beaches and baseball that draw them back.  The memories of what they experienced at Myakka River State Park will also be part of that allure.   What a jewel it is!!!

Lake Wobegon at Myakka?


Guest Post by Nancy Dobias.

I didn't mean to go to Myakka River State Park early this morning but as I was driving by the overpass of the Myakka River and saw the fog laying low over the river, I thought, "Whoa....this looks like the setting for some scary movie."  Giving in to temptation, I turned around, presented my state pass and into the park I went.  First stop was the river trail behind the south pavilion but because it was too foggy to get any clear shots of the river, I didn't last long.

Since the bridge was just as foggy, I kept driving until next I came to a grove of trees that would look great in that scary movie.  Too bad there were no sound effects.

I did, however, encounter an unexpected resident of Myakka temporarily biding his time in a flooded field as he watched vehicle after vehicle after vehicle make their way past him.

He must have been feeling rather cozy enjoying some time away from the river as he didn't appear in any rush to leave.  I don't think he wanted to be in any scary movie because he chose a field of red in which to lay...maybe he wanted to present himself as an attractive picture for a possible Valentine's Day card.

Those who were in a rush were a group of vultures looking to get in a quick game of soccer, especially since the fog had finally lifted.  They weren't interested in cards or movies.  They wanted to compete, to prove themselves on the "field of honor.”

A few of their friends who were more into water sports decided to pass on soccer and instead wait around for someone to rent them some canoes.  Seeing life from another plane was going to be their goal today.  In fact one of them was so impatient for the rental place to open that he kept scanning the nearby road to see when someone would arrive.

Another two decided that a romantic picnic in the park was more what they would prefer.  Their parents, however, did send along a chaperone to make sure they behaved.

Too bad that chaperone didn't supervise a Great Blue Heron who was on the other side of the parking lot.  He could have used a review of Emily Post dining etiquette.  The heron caught himself an alligator-sized fish but there was no way he was giving up his prize to anyone.  It was going down no matter what.

He looked like he was trying to "beat" on it to make it more palatable.  When all else failed, down the hatch it went.  I think this guy could have been the star of that scary movie!!