Seeing a Florida gator that's even kind of close is scary enough, let alone the thought of being chased by one, but that's exactly what one Florida Man says happened to him on August 18 while swimming down the Santa Fe River near Ginnie Springs.
According to the post shared by Doug Prince in the Facebook Group "Florida Springs Enthusiasts", he was wearing his long fins and swimming for exercise, saying he was booking it and pretty worn out by the time he was notified about what was happening.
"I was also oblivious until some folks on shore called out to let me know." the post reads, in part. "They were videotaping as it made a beeline right to me. I needed an excuse to take a break so I turned to face the approximately 6' gator."
At that point, Prince says the gator was already close and closing in. As he turned to let his feet drop, the gator stopped its advance. In the tannic color of the Santa Fe, from Prince's position, he could only make out part of its head at eye level.
Hoping to make his point that he was willing to fight for his life, Prince then advanced toward the gator, losing sight of it almost immediately as it completely submerged itself. Tired and still wanting a break from his watery workout, Prince then advanced toward the shore to talk with the people who warned him of his unexpected follower.
"The people on the shore were still watching and informed me it went downstream a little before they lost view. I decided I'd wait a few minutes until the tubers rounded the bed and continued catching my breath. Once they did, I let them know what happened. Coincidentally, these two were videotaping as I swam by them earlier and I played wolf, faking being dragged under the water as the camera swung to me." Prince recounted.
Just when he thought he was in the free and clear, the gator tried to advance on him a second time. Instead of acting afraid, Prince said he just kept a close eye on it and continued swimming about the river; the post continues to credit the folks who warned him and quick thinking to stop swimming away in stopping the gator's advance.
"Thankfully it didn't get nearly as close the second time," said Prince. "Just a friendly reminder, don't act like prey animals. When I stopped swimming away that was the key to stopping the advance...If you have kids or are smaller in stature, be aware. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face in that river and would be easy to attack if I was smaller. Thankfully the folks on shore let me know what was up in time. Welcome to Florida, Folks."
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), serious injury as a result of an alligator in Florida is rare; however, they encourage citizens concerned about an alligator and its behavior to call the FWC's toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. The FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.
Remember to never feed an alligator and keep your distance if you see one. The FWC recommends only swimming in designated swimming areas during daylight hours, as well as protecting your pets by keeping them on leashes away from the water.
To read the Facebook post in full, click here.
Article by Rachael Volpe