Mommy Dearest is a Gator

February 12, 2017

Nature Notes by Bill Dunson

As I was walking quietly along one of the trails at Wildflower Preserve that borders the upper end of Lemon Creek, I was surprised to find a six foot gator in shallow water, that did not move away on my approach. Then I saw a baby swim by her head and noticed more than a dozen babies nearby, some hatched this year and some last year. The isolated shallow brackish lagoon seems an ideal nursery area for the babies. As I took photos, some retreated into a gator den dug along the bank.

What an idyllic scene for these prehistoric survivors of the dinosaur’s disappearance, and how charming that they have found a refuge within Wildflower Preserve. Under their mother’s protection they have a reasonable chance of surviving the many perils of life in the marsh and swamp. Under the protection of the Lemon Bay Conservancy we hope their mother is also safe from humans. It is imperative for the ecological health of this natural area that gators remain as top predators. For one thing, any breeding water birds will be predated by raccoons if the water beneath their nests is not patrolled by alligators.

Bill Dunson

About Bill Dunson

Bill Dunson, born in rural Georgia, skipped 12th grade and went directly to Yale. Bill subsequent-ly received a PhD in Zoology from the University of Michigan, studying softshell turtles. Bill is Professor Emeritus of Pennsylvania State University thanks to a career spent entirely at that institution, teaching and doing research on the physio-logical ecology and ecotoxiciology of reptiles, amphibians and fish. Always curious about nature, Bill has dedicated his life to learning and sharing his knowledge with others. He has served on many advisory boards here in Southwest Florida to preserve the water that gives life to our region.

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