Thursday, November 26, 2015

Some Have Names

Whenever I'm camping, hiking, backpacking, or kayaking I encounter animals. Sometimes many animals. And every once in a while a local will point out a specific critter and tell me that it has a name.

Just such an animal was an alligator we encountered on the St. John's River near Blue Spring State Park in Florida. We had been kayaking on the river and a ranger told me about an alligator named "Tick". His name was Tick because he had a round, bloated appearance like a tick that has been feasting on blood.

The reason for his unusual shape was that he was struck by the blades of a speedboat blazing down the river. The blades cut into his back and 'cracked' the layer of skin and dermal scutes that protect him from harm. He recovered from the immediate effects of the encounter, but air leaked into his body and he quite actually partially puffed up like a balloon. The air had no way to escape once the injury healed over.

Now, alligators are largely ambush predators. So this would be something of a problem since his back is like a big ball that breaks the surface before his eyes do. But the ranger assured me that Tick was doing fine and had been around for years, and would likely be around for many more years.

Unless, of course, he encounters the spinning blade of another speedboat.

"I'm gone sneak up on you!" Not. If you look closely you can see the "crack" that allowed air into his body before the wound healed.

A youngster we saw very close. might even be the progeny of Tick!

"Well, I'm gone sneak up on somebuddy else, then!"

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