Sea Pines, Hilton Head.
A woman who had been walking her dog was found drowned. It is suspected that the 8’ gator was after the dog and the owner tried to save it.
I’ve paddled around a bunch of gators and the 8’ always run.
But I’ve never had a gator snack on a leash.
Sea Pines, Hilton Head.
And signs all over the place warning about the gators !
We have signs on our beach in Florida warning about Salt water crocodiles in the area and we also have signs stating that it is Florida law; “no dogs on beaches”, but twice last season I pointed them out to ladies who had small dogs scampering around.
One of the ladies asked me if they would really hurt her dog!
There was a witness to what happened and it seems the gator went for the dog, and she tried to intervene. She did save her dog. They tried to resuscitate her without success. She was from NY so may not have known the temptation a dog would be for a gator. Perhaps signs prohibiting dog walking near gator ponds would be prudent. It is also advisable not to have your dog or small child on or in your boat when paddling where there are gators.
My experience with 8’ gators is the same they avoid me. In fact I have never had even larger gators threaten me. The females don’t grow much larger than that, but they will take you on if you are on their nest or they are protecting their young. Even females less than 8’ will do so. Gators over nine feet are males, and can be more aggressive. I show any gator 8’ an up respect for their space. They are after all an apex predator that have survived successfully over the eons.
It is a tragedy for sure, and I am deeply sorry for the family. This was an avoidable tragedy, and if she had kept a greater distance from the gator or the pond this would most likely never have happened. Although a gator can move very fast, they don’t run far.
Another factor in this was the gators at Sea Pines are very accustom to people, and probably are much less intimidated
by people. To put gator fatalities in perspective this is only the 2nd recorded in SC.
Just last week, I paddled by three less than 5’. Two just slipped back in the water, and the third was quite enjoying the sun and had no plans on leaving, unless disturbed.
I also passed a female, sunning, about 8’ long, on the far side of the river. However, by the time, I came back downstream she had moved on.
In my experience, anything less than 6’ will ‘flight’ instead of ‘fight’. The bigger ones, have been around long enough to know that they are the top of their food chain. They still slide into the water when I paddle by. However, they are less likely to dive and hide. They will normally pop back up about 15’ away and wait to see if you are something that they might be interested in. A paddle hard and flat on the surface will normally dissuade too much curiosity. However, a female on a nest, forget about it. There is no need to hang around and raise her ire.
As a native Floridian, I have told my kidz from the beginning, “Any fresh water can have gators, any salt water can have sharks”. Once, I tried to explain how Bull Sharks can tolerate fresh water, the kidz were looking for sharks in rivers!..side note,…Once saw a boat towed up the Sante Fe River with a shark bite in the hull! That image will stay with me forever.
Even our normally docile and elusive saltwater crocs have been know to take a dog out of a backyard once they get large enough. It’s just what they’re programed to do…
I noted before that my grandparents lived in the Tampa area when it was still mostly wilderness.
One story passed down was gator hunting using a yappy dog for bait.
The gator was caught (by 00 buckshot) before it could get the dog.
I heard towing a poodle behind the boat works best…