Beautiful Florida: St. John’s River, alligators and the plight of cows

St. John’s River winds slowly through the Eastern part of north and central Florida. It’s a wonderfully picturesque river well known to be teeming with alligators.

So, one day a friend of mine told me she wanted to see some alligators. Considering it was early afternoon on a sunny, sweltering hot day in mid-August I asked:

St. John’s River – JoAnn Ryan – Christmas, FL

“Do you think it will be too hot for the alligators to come out of the water?”

Neither of us knew for sure so we shrugged and went to check it out anyway. We headed to a small viewing area near Christmas, FL, well past the city limits of Orlando.

St. John’s River – JoAnn Ryan – Christmas, FL

Well, the short of it is, we didn’t see a single alligator. On all of my previous trips to the St. John’s River I’ve always seen alligators so it was slightly disappointing. With it being so hot, no doubt they were hanging out in the deep cool water somewhere. Can’t blame ’em.

Which brings me to an interesting fact about alligators: while they cannot breathe underwater, they can hold their breath underwater for up to 24 hours! Wow!

We did see something else, though, cows! I know, not that remarkable. I didn’t even take any good pictures of them. It was only on the ride home that we really got to thinking about the cows.

Cows! Bad photo zoom, I know.

What we got to contemplating is how the cows remained safe amidst all the alligators. Maybe alligators don’t like eating cows? We wondered, hmm.

So of course we had to google it and thus we found out that alligators do eat cows… so how were these ones remaining unharmed?

The answer seems to lie somewhere between the size of the cows and the laziness of the alligators. Seriously, eating smaller things like turtles, snakes or fish is just much less effort for them. Remember how low to the ground they are… and staring up at this huge cow. It doesn’t scare them, it just seems like a lot of extra effort to go to. Kinda like when you may think of making lasagna from scratch for dinner and then opt to open a can of ravioli instead.

It does seem to be true though that the bigger the alligator the more likely it is to attack a cow. Makes sense. Bigger, bolder. I found all this interesting info on this blog post by Wild Florida: “5 facts about alligators in florida that surprise people the most.”

St. John’s River – JoAnn Ryan – Christmas, FL

Another thing that amazed me is how the water in certain areas looks almost completely black, like in the photo above! Of course this is due to certain kinds of plants and trees that color the water. Still it’s a strange phenomenon.

Thanks for enjoying wild Florida!

Check out more interesting Florida content here: All Things Florida

St. John’s River – JoAnn Ryan -Christmas, FL

35 comments

  1. Great photos, and I also appreciated the link to the “5 Facts about Alligators.” I remember hitchhiking from Miami to Tampa many years ago and didn’t see a single one. But I always wondered where my hitchhiking partner disappeared to. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I used to live down there, and cross that river daily! In the 10 years I always being from Washington State wanted to see an Alligator and I never saw one except caged. We even went at the prime times! Beautiful photo!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fantastic pictures, JoAnn. My compliments on having the steadiness to snap clear pictures, despite alligators being…about. I get you not letting gators freak you out as much as they once did, but still, part of being a Floridian is having respect for the situation.

    Surprisingly enough, I’ve had pretty good luck spotting alligators when I’ve visited Florida. Approaching Cape Kennedy, the last stretch of highway between town and the station was lined with them, virtually snout-to-tail.

    Then, a couple years later came a boat tour of the St. John’s, launching from DeLand (inland Volusia County). Again, encountered probably a dozen of them in the two-hour “cruise.”

    I guess that makes me one lucky (unlucky?) Yankee!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I might have been on that same tour four or five years ago. Blue Heron Tours. Awesome tour! I saw more alligators in the wild on that trip than any other.

      Oh yes, one must always respect the wild life no matter where you are. I’m glad to hear that you are so lucky when it comes to seeing alligators!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, JoAnn, I think it was Blue Heron! Of course, I suspect there aren’t many companies offering tours on that stretch of the St. John’s as most of the tourist activity is east (the beaches), west (Disney, etc.), south (Canaveral) and far, far south (Miami).

        Still, aside from all the gators, I also spotted, for the first time in my life, bald eagles. I’ve seen them many times since, elsewhere, but it still was pretty cool. Maybe not quite gator-cool, but close.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I suppose the photos are a bit deceptive as I shot them above the barrier. You can see just a little part of it in the first photo though. It looks close to the water but it was actually pretty far.

      I agree, bears and lions can move much faster than alligators so that would be scary!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I actually meant that alligators are also quite fast on land, once they get going. I was amazed to see that in a documentary. Faster than me in any case …
        I was so impressed that you go to see alligators in the wild … 😉 (before I learned about the barrier … haha)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha, I guess I’m a true Floridian now as the alligators don’t scare me like they used to. Still I absolutely don’t want to get too close. I’m not about to cross the barrier of that viewing area. I’m not the Crocodile Hunter!

      Liked by 1 person

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