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Most are the creature in the wild
The American Alligator
The American Alligator - (Alligator mississippiensis), also referred to as a gator or common alligator, is a large crocodilian reptile primarily found in the southeastern United States. It is one of two living species in the genus Alligator within the family Alligatoridae; it is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese alligator. Adult male American alligators measure 3.4 to 4.6 m (11 to 15 ft) in length, and can weigh 453 kg (999 lb). Females are smaller, measuring around 3 m (9.8 ft). The American alligator inhabits freshwater wetlands, such as marshes and cypress swamps from Texas to North Carolina.
JT Norton Locations I have photographed them: Lake Jesup is one of the largest lakes in Central Florida, one of many that make up the St. Johns River. Located in the heart of Seminole County along the middle basin of the St. Johns, the lake encompasses an area of approximately 16,000 acres.
Lake Woodruff Lake Woodruff is part of the National Wildlife Refuge Lake Woodruff NWR was established in 1964 to provide habitat for migrating and wintering birds. The refuge contains 21,574 acres of freshwater marshes, 5,800 acres of Cypress and mixed hardwood swamps, 2,400 acres of uplands, and more than 1,000 acres of lakes, streams, and canals. Lake Apopka is the third largest lake in the U.S. state of Florida. It is located 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Orlando, mostly within the bounds of Orange County, although the western part is in Lake County. Fed by a natural spring, rainfall and stormwater runoff, water from Lake Apopka flows through the Apopka-Beauclair Canal and into Lakes Beauclair and Dora. From Lake Dora, water flows into Lake Eustis, then into Lake Griffin and then northward into the Ocklawaha River, which flows into the St. Johns River.Max. length 12.3 mi (19.8 km)
Max. width 9.7 mi (15.6 km)
Surface area 30,800 acres (125 km2)
Average depth 15.4 feet (4.7 m) Silver River The Silver River drains Silver Springs, located in the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park in Silver Springs, Florida approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) east of Ocala, Florida. The river flows east from the springs, being joined by an unnamed tributary creek from the north just east of the park, for approximately 4.5 miles (7.2 km) before joining the Ocklawaha River just south of the Bert Dosh Memorial Bridge. St Johns river (Spanish: Río San Juan) is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida and its most significant one for commercial and recreational use. At 310 miles (500 km) long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state's largest. The drop in elevation from headwaters to mouth is less than 30 feet (9 m); like most Florida waterways, the St. Johns has a very low flow rate 0.3 mph (0.13 m/s) and is often described as "lazy". Wekiva River The Wekiva River (sometimes spelled Wekiwa, a Creek word meaning "spring of water") is a 16.0-mile-long (25.7 km) river in Central Florida, north of Orlando in the United States. It originates in Apopka and joins the St. Johns River, the longest river in the state, in DeBary.
I have been photographing these animals for a long time and have studied them closely to learn all I can to help me understand them when up close and personal. They are very dangerous and if you are stupid and do give them the respect they deserve - you will be on the losing end of a fight. I do my best to not distress the animals I photograph. When sitting with one on the Silver River it actually went back to sleep while I sat with it for over 2 hours.
I have had situations where I got a bit to up close and personal with them. Three got up under me and one was rather violently as they tried to get away and I was in the way. A couple tail slaps and even had one land on my kayak while jumping off a log to get back into the Wekiva River. Did not see it until it was too late.
- lost a DSLR on that one :( -
I'm careful so over the years these few "run ins" are a good sign I'm doing a good job not to distress them and just get the shot.
I DO NOT BAIT / LURE my subjects and when you feed these animals you are removing their natural fear of man and are asking for trouble. I want them in their natural state and to me the photograph means more to me if it is natural.
The longest amount of time sitting with one photographing was on the Silver River and I sat with this animal for 2 hours. It was about 9 feet in length. The largest is one resides in lake Apopka that is just under 13 feet. She came up next to me so a measuring against a 9' 6" kayak is pretty damn accurate.