In the city when summer time rolls
around the average city kid is looking forward to fun in the summer sun.
Ice cream and swimming and perhaps even a good summer job to make a little bit
of spending money for the summer. Well, down on the island when summer
time rolls around the average country boy is also looking forward to a good
summer job; some jobs are less desirable than others but one of the jobs that
seems to always be fun and most profitable, is the harvesting of alligators.
Harvesting includes the picking of alligator eggs, the hunting of alligators for
their hides, and the harvesting of alligators for the purposes of tagging them
and re-releasing them for re-location purposes or tracking and studying.
Early in the morning, before the sun wakes up, the silent marsh is now filled
with the roar of the airboat engines warming up and launching themselves into
the water, now the sun rises and their off, like the beginning of the Indy 500
they race through the marsh to find their first nest for the day, the nests are
usually marked by white PVC pipes with a light colored piece of flagging, put
their at a previous date by a helicopter crew locating the nests from above,
marking them in a Global Positioning System (GPS).
Once you punch in the co-ordinates on the GPS and locate the nest the airboat is
positioned so that the picker will not have to get out of the boat for safety
reasons, (female alligators are known to protect their nest) but this is not
always possible, once everything is in place you must uncover the nest with your
hands layer by layer until you locate the eggs without disturbing them, then the
eggs must be marked using a marker of some kind on the top of the egg so that
the eggs can be placed exactly the same way in the container as they are in the
nest, this is because after a certain amount of time the embryo attaches itself
to the bottom of the egg and if it is not placed in the same way in the
container as it was in the nest the embryo will detach itself from the egg shell
and die. Before the eggs are placed in the container it is lined with
chunks of the nest placed under and on top of the eggs in the container to
cushion the eggs to prevent breakage. From the nests, to the airboats, to
the trucks, to the alligator farms, the eggs are then prepared and put into an
incubator for hatching. After a couple of weeks the eggs hatch and the
hatchlings are put directly into an alligator shed, the alligator farms are
required to tag and release a certain percent of the alligators that they hatch.
Once the alligators are released into the wild, their growth rate slows down,
and will continue to slow down the longer they are alive; it could take up to 70
years for a male alligator to reach 14 feet. So when you take into
consideration on everything a 14 foot alligator has to go through; first of all
he had to survive 70 years of boats, droughts, and fishermen, as well as other
male alligators, but alligator hunting is the biggest reason of all why an
alligator of this size is such a rare and beautiful thing to come by.
"Florida Alligator Hunting"
Alligator hunt now available, Experience the ultimate in hunting
Florida alligators. Now taking reservations for once a year
September hunt. Hurry, very limited availability."
All over the United States you can pay
big money to be allowed to hunt an alligator, but here on the island it is a way
of life and you can get paid big money to hunt an alligator; it can almost be
considered a necessity, seeing that if nobody hunts the alligators, they will
take over and become a nuisance. Not to mention if the alligator hunters
stopped hunting them, then that would be a major source of his income, gone.
Alligator hunting has always been a part of the islands history and heritage.
Passed on from generation to generation and usually continued on by kids and
grandkids and their kids and grandkids, it will always be a part of life and a
part of a lot of enjoyment and pride from the Island.
Click here to view
photos of alligators.