Archive for the ‘jungle’ Tag

‘Gator on a Rope   1 comment


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Not your average “Soap on a Rope.”

This, it seems to me, is one prime example of a giant bull Alligator mississippiensis, otherwise known as the American alligator. All I need to know is that they have big teeth and strong tails and that my kayak hull is rather fragile when it comes right down to it.

It was a warm day in late April on the Silver River, so the beast came onshore to collect some heat from the sun. Typically, alligators stay sedentary, preferring not to go into the colder water unless they feel threatened. If they do get scared, their normal safety procedure is to scramble directly into the water and submerge. That’s fine, as long as one’s kayak is not between the ‘gator and the water.

There’s a 3 knot current in the Silver River, so once I spotted this guy, I paddled upstream a bit, grabbed the camera and began to drift (from right-to-left in this picture.) As I came directly across from my subject, I noticed the OTHER tail in the woods… “Good ford!” I said, “There’s two of ‘em!” Evidently, this little puppy had a girlfriend.

Not wanting to disturb his marital bliss any longer (they do have reptilian brains, after all, and are not capable of much discernment), I slowly paddled… backwards.

Shelter from the Storm   7 comments


Shelter from the Storm

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Yes… monkeys.

“You’re not going to see any monkeys today,” an experienced outfitter told us at the launch ramp before we started out. “It’s too cold and dank.”

My advice is to take local knowledge — usually quite helpful — with a grain of salt. We came across lots of monkeys.

After snapping the cormorant (Cormorants) while paddling the Silver River in Florida, we rounded a bend and found the first troop of monkeys cavorting near the edge of the water. They were creating quite a ruckus deeper in the woods, swinging from the trees and challenging one another.

There were about twenty individuals, ranging from the dominant male and young-buck upstarts, to teenagers, and pairs like this adorable mother and child. Here, the mother is taking a break from grooming the young one long enough to warm him up. Just on the other side of the tree, the dominant male was posing and bouncing up and down on a fallen tree, warning other troop members not to approach.

You might ask: Why are there wild monkeys in Florida?

At the Silver Springs headwaters, you can find a number of attractions, including the famous glass-bottomed boat rides. In the 1930s, the operator of the Silver Springs Jungle Cruise put the monkeys on a small island in the river in order to spice up the ride for customers.

He didn’t realize that monkeys are excellent swimmers.

The monkeys escaped the island, of course, and began to populate the surrounding woods. As civilization approaches closer to the Springs, some monkeys have been seen in the nearby city of Ocala, or raiding citrus groves, or free-ranging on livestock farms. Some people have claimed that the monkeys pose a threat to humans, as they can carry the Herpes-B virus, fatal to humans, though the threat is surely overblown.

An animal shelter worker studying the monkeys once stopped 15 tourists in the park and asked them what drew them there. Fourteen said they came to see the monkeys (as did we.)

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The Warmth of Jungleland   6 comments


A lush, warm, tropical scene from the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida

The Warmth of Jungleland

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First of all, I’d like to apologize for not posting lately. Between various photo assignments and personal commitments, I’ve found that time is on the short side. I look at this as a positive thing. Not having enough hours in the day to accomplish all your goals may be the sign of a rich life, and for that, I’m grateful.

That said…  I need warmth!

Like many of us in the northern hemisphere, I’m growing weary of all the snow and cold temperatures. Some of my buds have it worse, digging out from almost two feet of snow yesterday. Again, I can’t complain because here in the south, things come to a standstill when just a few snowflakes fly, but we’ve already gotten more snow than I can remember for this time of year. Judging from the rate that the grocery stores sell out of bread, milk, and eggs, I can only conclude that when it snows, people make a lot of French Toast. (Just remember to use real maple syrup. That other… stuff is loaded with high fructose corn syrup.)

At this point, I’d like nothing more than to hop in the car and take a slow road trip to Florida.

Since I can’t right now, I figured I’d keep warm by processing a nice, sunny, tropical image. It didn’t really work; it’s like trying to warm yourself by watching a video of a burning log in a fireplace.

This image is from the McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a beautiful place, with old wooden buildings, lush landscapes, and incredible flowers. If you ever visit bring your tripod, an array of lenses, a snack, and plan to spend several hours strolling around this wonderful property.

Sending lots of warm thoughts your way!

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