During mating season, male alligators flirt with females and let rival gator dudes know there’s someone in the territory by “booming,” i.e., making a deep, guttural call while partially submerged in such a way that their scaly backs vibrate and produce a dancing water courtship display. (I don’t judge — I’ve seen far more inexplicable courtship displays by humans.)
Anyhoo, the booming typically ramps up when rainy season starts in June, but if you’re in the right place, you can hear gators booming all summer long. Here’s a 30-second vid I took with my phone from my porch a while ago. You won’t see the gators, but if you turn up the sound, you’ll hear distant gators calling and then a response that sounds like it’s coming from under my dock.
Ever heard gators booming? Turn the sound up and listen: pic.twitter.com/PVmPHDDDcN
— Betty Cracker ? (@bettycrackerfl) August 30, 2021
The alarmingly close gator you can hear at about the 20-second mark is probably Dexter, a little gator who has been hanging out on our dock when the river is high this summer, but it sure sounds big and scary, which is probably the point.
I have a healthy respect for gators, which is why I keep my dogs away from the water at all times and do not swim except in springs where I can see clearly. That said, I don’t live in fear of them. You’re hundreds or maybe even thousands of times more likely to die in a car collision with a deer than be attacked by a gator.
And yet, there’s something primordial about that booming that can freeze the blood, even if you’re in your own house that is safely elevated above the surface of the water. I think of it as nature’s way of saying, “You ain’t all that, human.” It’s an important and helpful reminder.
Walking down the boardwalk in the preserve in Ft Myers and hearing this is enough to freeze you in your tracks and make you wonder about your life choices.
They are amazing creatures.
What an amazing place to live!
Seems like WaterWorld, like Kevin Costner will show up at any time.
I’d rather deal with a gator than a Republican.
At least they have weak jaw muscles when it comes to opening their mouths.
Can’t really hear anything but cicadas, but sounds like you describe would be enough to chill my blood. Especially if they’re sounding like they’re that close.
I know I have had enough of summer when I want to punch out a cicada.
Or your ancestors’ life choices. “Were fur and warm-bloodedness really all that great a decision? Maybe we should have stuck with the heavy armor and giant teeth.”
@TaMara (HFG): I’m just reading the part in “The Gulf, The Making of and American Sea” about the idiocy of constructing Cape Coral and destroying the mangroves.
Only thing more unsettling than a gator is a horny gator.
@TaMara (HFG): If you are in the Fort Myers area and want to get ‘real up close and personal’, I’d recommend the CREW Bird Rookery and Swamp Trail. No elevated boardwalk after the first 2/10 of a mile…just miles of trails along a network of drainage ditches. Along with the many gators, I saw more otters there than in any other place I’ve visited.
It’s funny…I was kayaking yesterday and apropos of nothing was wondering how many years/decades of warming temps it will take before alligators make it up to central VA. Or will the pythons get here first?
Upstate New York is looking better and better all the time…
Oh, that’s a really cool clip! I didn’t know that about gators. Male bullfrogs also use a call to attract females; I always imagine them croaking, “What’s your sign? What’s your sign?”
That sounds like a prehistoric movie soundtrack. Dinosaurs booming in the background.
As I have said before, swamps are really loud. You are making me miss Florida, after 55 years gone. I had thought all the wild places were now suburbs.
Mike in NC
Haven’t seen a gator in our community in a couple of months. When it gets to be 95-100 degrees outside, they have the good sense to stay burrowed in the mud.
@Nicole: Far Side mating calls. (Hope the link to imgur works.)
Battered around by the waves like a cork.
At the Oakland zoo the lion habitat has several places to see the lions. One of them is a platform above one of their hangouts. I was there once when the head male lion let out a tremendous roar. I can’t think of many things more pants-pissing-inducing than that if one heard that in the wild.
That photo is amazing: sunlight glowing through the dinosaur throat.
No need to worry. The murder hornets will get to you well before then.
Not if you take ivermectin.
Has a distinct “Come to Butthead” vibe. Fun! (Fun, in that it’s fun to learn about and hear, maybe less fun being only some yards away but hey, nature!)
Ah, yes, the mating call of the American Redneck, “Hold my beer and watch this!”
Excellent news, if true.
When I was a kid in Florida we swam in a lake that was absolutely full of gators all the time. No one ever gave it a moment’s thought. Gators were good and scared of humans back then. You could not get near them if you tried. I don’t know what changed exactly. *
But in thunderstorms, I won’t go out at all, not even onto a porch.
I always tell people, you know you grew up in Florida when, you will sit in your driveway for an hour and a half with melting ice cream among your groceries to avoid stepping out into a lightning storm, but swimming in a lake full of gators? Not an issue.
* Maybe Yankees with loaves of wonder bread.
@sab: Thanks! I see them do that sometimes — hold their mouths open in the sun. I assume it’s to warm up, but maybe there’s some other purpose to it.
The Calder Fire (in California) evacuation zone has been expanded into the Tahoe Basin.
And highway closures in addition to CA 50 (Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe) include CA 88 to the south. Hard to describe how much of the northern Sierra Nevada is impacted for those who have never traveled it. (And it is not the state’s largest fire.)
Apropos of nothing here, I watched “The Railway Man” last night. I have never watched a better indictment of war as a means to settle anything. I’d you have Prime, watch it. So well done.
That’s really cool, Betty. Thanks for sharing.
@Jerzy Russian: Oh yeah. I remember being in the facility at the SF Zoo where they feed the big cats. It is so intimidating, especially when they’re hungry!
Also, when we lived in the Santa Cruz mountains, we often heard mountain lions caterwauling just yards from the house. The blood runs cold when you hear a large apex predator in the woods nearby.
The Moar You Know
Having spent most of my life playing music in bars as an release/adjunct to my far more remunerative day job, all I can say is the gator’s approach to courtship is certainly not only far more understandable than most humans, but FAR more polite.
There are some establishments – by some strange coincidence, not places I play in – where the presence of women just puzzles me. Why put up with that shit?
Also, I find gators both fascinating and terrifying. I don’t think I could live as close as that, BC. A better woman than I am, you are!
Anytime someone gripes about them, I just say, we live in their house, we’re lucky they don’t eat all of us!
@Betsy: Haha, true! I’m spoiled because I grew up on spring-fed rivers with lots of clear swimming holes, but plenty of people around here do swim in murky water without a second thought. The other day, we saw a HUGE gator going upriver — it had to be at least a 10-footer, the head was as big as a Thanksgiving platter, and it created its own wake going upstream! Moments later, we saw a guy jump off his jets ski to clear the weeds, right about in the same spot. Thought about yelling a warning, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯…
Reminds me of reading about the freshly landed Spanish getting seriously spooked by the booming – and what was making it (when they finally discovered that after a couple weeks). They thought the Everglades were full of demons and monsters.
That was hilarious; thanks. I remember a cartoon I saw on Twitter that I wish I’d saved, of someone imagining if bird mating behaviors and human mating behaviors were reversed, and I remember the punchline was a picture of a bird saying to a female bird, “I sent u a picture of my dick plz respond.”
@The Moar You Know: Some of us give us a bad rep! Just a fact.
When our kid redhead.edu was in preschool, you could hear the lions (and gibbons and certain birdies) from the zoo across the street. I’d like to think it instilled a sense of wonder among the juice box set.
Yeah, jet skis. A product for which I have no concept of why it exists. We know folks who live on the the Sac River, on the river side of the levee, and every summer weekend it’s like a dragster and chainsaw festival just past their backyard. Pastoral. Got even better when they began adding ginormous music systems to the ski boats.
I need advice on something delicate. I never received a sympathy card from my co-workers. I know this is abnormal, because I’ve signed multiple sympathy cards every year since I’ve worked here. I think what happened is that the woman at our front desk had to quarantine for 10 days due to Covid, and her quarantine started the Monday after my mother died. I have a hard time believing they didn’t do anything, but I don’t know how or even whether to broach this subject. What I do know is that our front desk employee would be appalled if she knew this happened, so I suspect she thinks they did something. I have no idea how to handle this situation. It seems crass to ask about a sympathy card for myself, but I know they normally would have done something, so maybe something happened and there is a card but no one knows I didn’t get it. Ugh…..
@Betty Cracker: Eek!
My ma and pa had their first date tubing at a Fla. spring back in the late fifties. There is nothing like a Florida spring, is there? Looking across the basin under the crystalline water and seeing the legs of a wading bird a hundred yards away. Or underneath you, the blue-tinged fins of a bream guarding his “saucer” in the white fossil sand.
Anonymous At Work
@Roger Moore: That’s just normal Darwinian pressure on those not well-versed in Darwin.
I think she means 70s and 80s fashions. Or how else do you explain pink leg-warmers?
@Soprano2: Let it go.
A ‘Nole, on the other hand, might be a problem.
My parents lived in Florida for a while in retirement. I remember wading in the lake near their house and saying, “Oh listen to the bullfrogs!” and my mom saying, “No, those are alligators.” I think I actually levitated out of the lake.
@trollhattan: I think that would be pretty exotic!
Hey, maybe this Covid thing isn’t so bad after all.
@Soprano2: I’ll take this opportunity to extend my own condolences since I must have missed the original thread where you let us know your mom had passed. I saw a convo about mail where it wasn’t clear to me if she was gone or if you were dealing with mail during an extended illness, so I didn’t want to pipe up with condolences under the wrong circumstances. Anyhoo, I am so sorry. It’s a tough thing to lose your mom. :(
@Soprano2: That’s a shame. Everyone they are used to being in charge is out of commission so the sheep are floundering. They are probably just proud of themselves for keeping the place running. As a lifelong sheep I can sympathise with both you and them.
Maybe drop a hint to a close friend/customer to drop a hint to them or to her.
@Soprano2: It’s a crazy time. And my sincere sympathies, as a full orphan myself, now.
@Betsy: And sea cows!
I loved dropping her off and picking her up from there. Not just the zoo soundtrack but wading the sea of tiny humans, seeing the tiny furniture, tiny bathroom sinks, tiny everything. Usually one or two tiny kids would just give your leg a hug.
Seems like yesterday but she’s nineteen.
@Soprano2: i’m so sorry, I missed the news. Sending you sympathy. It’s a very rough journey. May her memory be a blessing.
As to your work question, do you have a coworker you could ask, in sort of the, “ i’m not upset or anything, but I just wondered, because everyone else has gotten sympathy cards when they’ve had losses in the family and I was concerned someone was mad at me” way? (Which obviously they aren’t; I’m sure it just slipped through the cracks, but if you have a coworker you’re friendly enough with, they probably will follow up. I’ve done that secondhand thing when I’ve been concerned that a friend has been mad at me. I know we’re told to be direct, but in some situations, I think it’s better to go through an intermediary.)
@Soprano2: Sorry for everything you’re dealing with and for the basic loss above all. Still, paper in hand or not, you know your coworkers would have signed the card but for this teeny little understandable circumstance. And you know the originator would be distraught at the omission. All the feelings and support are nevertheless there, the only thing that is missing is the paper.
@Betsy: It’s just amazing, and thankfully, most tourist hordes keep to the beaches and theme parks and have no clue about the springs. One of my fondest spring-swimming memories is a time I got off my tube and swam underwater a bit to cool down, caught sight of some movement next to me (scared me at first) and looked over to see an otter swimming in parallel!
@MattF: Just stay out of the comments. Everyone’s a fucking expert.
The Moar You Know
@Soprano2: Let it slide. Seriously. You were the victim of bad timing and nothing else.
I posted an update in an earlier thread this morning. They lost containment yesterday on the Caldor fire. It is down to only 13% now.
It is so sad. We have spent countless days and weeks for the past 40+ years in the Carson Pass area hiking, camping, backpacking, x-country skiing and snowshoeing. So much of it is burning now. Kirkwood ski resort and Silver Lake are now under mandatory evacuation orders on the southeastern edge of the fire. And the northeastern edge is only bout 10 miles outside of Lake Tahoe.
@leeleeFL: Speaking of Prime, have you watched “Utopia”? It is so well done! I’m surprised I haven’t seen it mentioned on the twitter. Is it not cool because it’s not HBO or AppleTV?
@Soprano2: Nothing good can come from pushing it
Plus what Betty C said!
I would wait rather than ask anyone. It could be a mail delivery issue, it could be in a neighbor’s mailbox that they haven’t checked yet, etc.
This is exactly what I went through when my mother died. I had been sending sympathy cards for my whole adult life so I was shocked when I didn’t get them in return.
Since then, I have learned that sympathy cards are old school and no one does that anymore. Just like RSVPs to invitations, it doesn’t happen. And when they don’t send a card, they have no idea what to say to you when they see you in person. So they often don’t say anything to you at all. It’s a strange new phenomenon in today’s world of social media. Social niceties and kindnesses are a lost art.
I ended up realizing that I had to bring the subject up myself, like, “I don’t know if you heard, but my mother died last week.” That way they were forced to deal with it but were more comfortable responding when I opened the conversation. And most people were very sorry and were able to communicate that once I opened the conversion.
It’s a really tough time and I hope it gets better for you soon
Added: And it sounds like there was at least one person at your work who took the time to get a sympathy card for others to sign. When that person is out, it doesn’t happen.
@Scout211: By the end of the year, I fear livable areas of our country are going to shrink. Climate change is here and most just ignore it.
@Soprano2: I still mail cards, but it is becoming a lost art. I’m so sorry about your mother. Losing a parent is difficult no matter when .
@trollhattan: that’s taking YOLO to an extreme
@JPL: That’s why I think Democrats will go all-in on that reconciliation bill or say fuck the infrastructure bill if there’s another “centrist” revolt — and really mean it. I’m usually a “half loaf is better than none” person, but in this case, not so much. The situation is dire.
I’m mortified at what I’ll see next trip up the hill. I know Desolation relatively like the back of my hand since it’s the closest backpacking to where I live and it and huge swaths of El Dorado National Forest are involved in this fire.
Like you, when I lived in Stockton the Carson Pass area was where I headed most often.
Why he’s purring!
@Anonymous At Work:
I think fashion is mostly about proving your ability to stay ahead of the crowd.
If only human males could be that sophisticated.
@debbie: that’s probably true!
Um. Yikes. Even a little one under the dock is a bit too close for me… (I recently did several river crossings where we had to cross in a tight bunch so any nearby crocodiles (or hippos) would think we were an elephant. Quite ‘invigorating’… )
Low Key Swagger
@Betty: Hard nope. When I lived in Orlando an older woman was snatched by a gator right off a park bench. I respect them…but don’t want to see or hear them.
As for the fire, I lived in Folsom for awhile, used to love to take a drive up thru Placerville and into Tahoe. This really breaks my heart.
Same here! Enough with all the screaming! Just fuck already and die!
Btw (since this is an OT and kind of nature-related): Mrs Fro and I had an unusual wildlife encounter yesterday with a very happy ending.
She usually walks the dog first thing in the a.m. and I do the last walk of the night. Yesterday morning, she came back into the house kind of breathless and babbling, “There’s an animal out there…peanut butter jar…on its head…help let’s get it…” and so on. Like, what?
So as we got a box, and some gardening gloves, and an old blanket, and Fro Jr’s BSA walking staff, she explained: she was walking the dog on the trail behind our house, when something black and furry came slowly stumbling down the hill through the woods. It had an old peanut butter jar on its head(!) She couldn’t get too close because the dog was freaking out, so she came back to the house and got me.
We walked out back, went up the trail, and sure enough, there was this black furry creature about a foot or so long (maybe a little longer) loping around with a peanut butter jar on its head. I scanned all around as best I could to try and make sure we weren’t about to have a bad time with a momma black bear. The coast looked clear. I circled around a bit, trying to recall if I ever remembered hearing that juvenile skunks were all black? No. Well, did I see even a hint of white striping on this thing? No again. I was sure we were dealing with a black bear cub. Ugh. I looked around for a momma bear once again, looked back at this pitiful animal…and saw it uncurl its long black tail.
“It’s a cat!”
Once we got that settled, knowing we weren’t going to get mauled or stink-bombed, Mrs. Fro got in position behind the cat, and used the blanket to hold it down while I slowly pulled the jar off its head. And once the jar was off, the blanket came off, and the cat sprinted away without so much as a ‘meow’ or a glance back at us for a thank-you.
So how about that? We brought good luck…to a black cat!
@Low Key Swagger:
Couple days ago Folsom had an AQI over 500. They ran out of map colors and assigned it gray. Simply awful, this whole mess.
@Jeffro: Hahaha, what a great story! And good on y’all for helping out a critter in need, even at great personal risk.
@Soprano2: So sorry for the loss of your mother. It’s a big loss. Please be kind to yourself.
It sounds like you may have been the victim of poor timing. If there is someone you really trust at work to keep your confidence you could ask, but otherwise there’s not a lot of upside to pursuing it. Unless you think they may have made a donation and are awaiting a thank you from you, in that case perhaps you need to ask.
I know how it feels that you have signed a gazillion of these sympathy cards and when it’s your turn…nothing. It’s an awful feeling and I’m so sorry you’re experiencing it. It is a really forlorn feeling.
That’s a good way to describe it. I know people know about my mother’s death, because several have talked to me individually and expressed their condolences. It’s not that I think they don’t care, it’s just that it feels so lonely. Is it really true that there’s only one employee in this whole place who’s responsible for things like that, and when she can’t do it (and everyone knows she’s going to be gone for 10 days!) literally no one thought to step in and be proactive with this? That’s kind of discouraging for what it says about my co-workers. Surely the ones who have talked to me also know they never signed a card, and you’d think one of them would have done something about that. I know I would have if I’d been in their position. I know that in the scheme of things it’s not a big deal, but still I’ve worked here since 1993 so you’d think someone would have done something.
@Soprano2: I am so sorry. Gosh, you’ve worked there since 1993. No wonder you feel really forgotten. Losing your mom is bad enough and then feeling like your coworkers haven’t thought about you during this time, especially given how long you’ve been there, is just awful.
It may may be advisable to deal with the issue directly. Could you talk to your boss about it? Or maybe bring it up to the front desk woman when she returns. Perhaps she doesn’t realize no one else steps in when she’s out and there needs to be a backup. Your boss might like to know because alienating employees like this could affect productivity. These are valid workplace concerns.
I heard nothing but crickets on my tablet but with my headphones and my desktop, I heard a BIG “grrrrrr”! Yeah, I’d be totes terrified at all times to hear that in real life!
@Soprano2: Soprano, I want to extend my condolences to you on the loss of your mother. Somehow I missed the post about your mother’s passing, then I realized what had happened and I wondered if jumping in late would be inappropriate. Well, here we are, I guess.
When my mother died, she was in a nursing home that was locked down in the first Covid wave, and we couldn’t be with her. Then, we had to postpone the funeral for several months. I only received 2 sympathy cards; one from my cousin, one from my sister-in-law. Now, my father did get many cards, thankfully, but I felt somewhat ignored – everyone felt bad my father lost his wife, but for me, not so much. I’d say his cards mentioned me, but I don’t live in his house, and I’m not a minor. It does hurt that people you work with and family members don’t acknowledge your loss. Sometimes I think people believe condolences via Facebook are enough, and don’t want to bother with cards. I don’t know.
Anyway, I’ve made this about me, and it isn’t – just know that even though we’ve never met, and our acquaintance is through a blog, I do know how this feels, and I’m sorry.
I feel this so hard. I am so sorry you experienced this as well. It is really hard to know where to put this kind of experience. It has affected my relationships with people, for better or worse.
Soprano2, I am very sorry you’re dealing with this situation. It’s probably not any comfort but you can see you’re not the only one.
@Jeffro: Oh, I can relate to the animal with its head in a jar! I was working at a state park; a tiny raccoon was wobbling through the parking lot, his head stuck in a Cheese Whiz jar. One of the naturalist pulled on heavy leather gloves, grabbed the baby, and then another soaped his neck with Dawn. A gentle pull and jar removed! He scampered off, all good. I did see him later that day, perched on a trash can, looking for goodies. I scolded him, but he just ignored me. Who knew he was a teenager, lol!
Needs more banjo.
@Betty Cracker: I thought it was to cool off? Not sure where I heard that. Maybe Attenborough talking about Crocs?
Betty Cracker: Do you sell photos? That gator looks so happy. I want his (?) picture on my wall.