Of course, alligators have a massive body and a slow metabolism - that is why they are so sluggish, right? It seems that most of the time they are laying around controlling their body temperature (by either sunbathing or avoiding the sun), and they are digesting all day long, "daydreaming," sleeping and just being lazy.
Well, you could not be more wrong. Do never underestimate alligators - they are capable of short bursts of speed. They can easily outperform you even if you think you can run fast. And they are strong. Stronger than you!
An alligator will not follow you hundreds of yards, but when you are closer than 10 yards, you should not feel safe at all.
Gators don't like you? You are a lucky dog!
In general, humans are not on top of their menu, but it is always good to be cautious. Their primitive reptile brain sometimes works in an unpredictable way. Usually, alligators move away when a human being is coming closer, but if the gator stays and doesn't seem to be afraid of you, don't be mistaken, he is not friendly at all because there is no such thing like a "friendly" gator. Something is wrong with that guy! Keep in mind that a friendly gator is not really a "friendly gator" - he may want you for dinner! Isn't that awful?
Alligators' main prey are smaller animals which they can kill and eat with a single bite. They may kill larger prey by grabbing it and dragging it into the water to drown. If they cannot tear chunks of meat out of the prey (alligators have no incisors), they will hide it somewhere to let it rot. Once the meat is soft and tender (and a little stinky), they will come back to enjoy their "gator candle-light dinner."
Are Gators dangerous Animals?
Are alligators dangerous animals? Yes and NO. First of all, they are animals. All animals, be it a cow, horse, cat or dog can act unforeseeable in certain situations.Even your dog may bite when somebody corners it. So, why do you want to test the waters messing around with a dinosaur?
Gators are only dangerous if you do not (want to) understand how their brain is wired. Handled correctly, they will stay away from humans because they are naturally afraid of us. But don't count on it; always watch out. Their brain got stuck some hundred million years ago. They have only two options engraved in their gray matter: run or attack.
Best thing to do: Stay away
Don't harass or feed a gator because gators cannot distinguish between the food and the hand that is feeding them. Once a human fed a gator, Wildlife Management needs to kill the animal. Chances are that he has learned that humans are food - not that people provided food. Therefore, leave them alone and respect them. They are part of Florida's wildlife like raccoons, bobcats, and snakes.
Good news is as everybody knows, we have no crocodiles in Florida. Really? No kidding? Well, that is not exactly the truth. The lizard-like reptiles we call alligators are crocodiles, too. So, how does that work?
The order of "Crocodilia" includes three families: the family of the true crocodiles, the family of the alligators and caimans and the family of the gharial (fish-eating crocodiles). So, the American alligator is, in fact, also a crocodile; however, it belongs to a different family.
Do we have "Real Crocodiles" in Florida?
This leaves us with the question: Do we have "real" crocodiles in Florida also? The answer is: "Yes, we do." There are not too many of them, though. The population is probably a few thousand. Recently a young couple was attacked by a crocodile. That was the first time that a crocodile attack was reported in the US. Well, those people were bathing in a canal in Miami - at 2:00 a.m. - although knowing there were two crocodiles (not gators) around. Was it a good idea to invade the territory of those reptiles in the middle of the night? Well, they got their punishment and the crocs probably got their punishment, too.
What is Red Tide?
Most of the time Red Tide is way off the cost, but if it reaches the shoreline, it will affect you. It will primarily affect your nose. This phenomenon is an algae bloom found in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. However, it is not limited to the Gulf of Mexico. We just don't know (and care) when it affects other parts of the world.
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict when the algae bloom is going to happen. In some years, it can be a plague, in other years, there is not even a hint of it. Usually, only the residents residing close by the shore are affected, causing irritation in the throat and nose, coughing, and a terrible smell.
And it stinks
In rare cases, the smell is so intense that it can be noticed many miles inland as well. Dead fish floating in the water and fish rotting on the beach is an unmistakable sign of red tide, besides that foul smell we mentioned already several times.
What causes Red Tide
What is exactly causing red tide? Nobody knows for sure, but fertilizer run-offs from the mainland are contributing to the algae bloom. Since 2008, the local government put a law in place prohibiting the use of fertilizer during the rainy season. Does it help? It seems so. For some years, there was no red tide at all, but last year it was terrible again. The smell was lingering around for weeks.
You will not hear about Red Tide in the media unless hundreds of tourists are drifting belly up next to the dead fish. Because this is not very likely to happen, Red Tide news is considered boring and also counterproductive. Especially when a lot of tourists are around everybody will keep his mouth shut. They are already suffering. Why do you want to tell them why they are suffering?
Red Tide information: Mote Marine Laboratory (941) 388-4441 or http://www.mote.org
Hurricanes. When the Wind blows!
There is no doubt about it that from time to time a particular natural phenomenon will bother a lot of people in Florida, and it will probably become a top media event. Especially when there is not too much going on somewhere else in the world, this event will be the number one story on TV 24/7. “Hurricane” is the trigger word. We just had that happen when Hurricane Irma knocked at our doors. Some where lucky when she visited, some where not so lucky.
Hurricanes are part of Florida
Hurricanes belong to Florida as much as the sunshine, moon landings, Flipper and Mickey Mouse; they are just a part of our subtropical existence. The official Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30. In general, our area is most active from late August through October. But not every year will be a busy season; 2004/2005 were very challenging years; the following ten years were remarkably calm - at least in our Sarasota area. Does it mean it will stay like that forever? We don't know. We hope so, but it is probably not going to happen.
What Is a "Hurricane"?
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone, which forms in the tropics and is accompanied by thunderstorms and a counterclockwise circulation of winds. They can start as a storm over Africa and while traveling along the Equator develop into a hurricane. However, they can form right in front of our doorsteps, in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean, as well. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:
What is a "TROPICAL DEPRESSION"?
A tropical depression is an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation, and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less. A tropical depression is the nursery of all hurricanes. An inconspicuous little depression is actually how it all begins, but fortunately, not all of them will make it. If the surrounding area is not favorable for development, a tropical depression will dump some rain and die.
What is a "TROPICAL STORM."
A tropical storm is an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation, and maximum sustained winds of 39-73 mph. When tropical storms are closer to the upper end (70 mph wind and more), they can cause some damage in older homes, modular homes and trailer parks. Furthermore, the amount of rain can cause a severe headache in low-lying areas.
What is a HURRICANE?
Hurricane is the name for an intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. According to their wind speed, hurricanes are categorized as Cat 1 (74-95 mph), Cat 2 (96-110 mph), Cat 3 (111-130 mph), Cat 4 (131-155 mph) and Cat 5 (155+ mph). Embedded tornadoes speed up the wind even more. (Hurricane Watch and Hurricane Warning)
In this age of technology, it is rare a storm comes in unannounced. Hurricanes are found and tracked from their infancy - so an abundance of timely information and warnings are available. The weathermen usually do an excellent job in predicting the exact path and timeline of those storms. However, and they do admit it, they may be pretty good predicting the path of the storm, but they are still having a hard time predicting the intensity. That doesn't matter, right?
Category 4 or 5 doesn't make a difference?
Well, the difference between a Cat 4 and Cat 5 is not only a "few more" miles of wind; it can be the difference between disaster and a major catastrophe.
Therefore, it is not brave if you want to stay in the home while a Cat 5 is narrowing in. The wind, the lightning, the torrential rain, the flying debris, the storm surge - you pick what you want to fight first. When a hurricane is expected to develop somewhere close - you needs to check the television, radio or the Internet once a day to stay informed.
Hurricanes are not traveling with lightning speed. When they form in the Atlantic, you have at least a week to prepare yourself. When developing in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea, you still have a few days to prepare for the event. The whole system usually travels at a speed of 10 - 15 miles/hour; only the swirling wind is faster - much faster. Embedded tornadoes (typically in the east quadrant of the storm) can reach up to 300+ miles per hour.
Back to School
When you were in school, you learned that "kinetic energy quadruples when speed doubles." Example: when a wind speed increases from 50 to 100 miles (doubles), the force (kinetic energy) does not only double. The 100-mile wind has four times the power compared to the 50-mile wind. Now, can you imagine what damage a 200-mile wind can do? Don't even think about the 300+ mile tornado which may be embedded in the outer wall which is already rotating at a speed of 200 miles.
If you do find yourself in the area where warnings are issued, be sure to follow the evacuation orders immediately. Do it for the safety of you and your family. Contact Emergency Management for additional information if you or your family members have special needs. Don't wait until the last minute if you need to evacuate. You are not the only one who needs to go. US 41 and I 75 can quickly turn into a huge parking lot when everybody stays until the last minute. You are not the only one who needs to go. US 41 and I 75 can quickly turn into a huge parking lot when everybody stays until the last minute.
How to survive in paradise continues.