I’ve been a Florida resident for around 45 years. I grew up during a time when you could drive on the beach and actually see water instead of condos from A1A. A lot’s changed, obviously, but while the inevitability of the Urban Sprawl is an unfortunate expectation, it comes with a price: people who move here and say silly things like, “What is an alligator doing living near people?”
And then I acquire a new set of bruises on my forehead from banging my head on the desk.
It seems that there’s a large chunk of the continental US and a pretty large number of Floridians (I’m going to assume urban-dwelling residents who don’t get out much or live near water… which is something of a feat living here) who haven’t yet heard the “news”: Florida is a very wet state, covered by large bodies of water, full of huge expanses of grassland, swampland, forested areas, and everything in between. Crazy, right? Who’d have thought!? But, wait — there’s MORE.
We have lots of things living here (including people, alas) that are fully capable of causing you serious illness or injury. Many of these things evolved over millions of years to become the ultimate predator in this environment. People did not. We’re fairly recent to their scene, and are making our homes and building theme parks and malls right in the middle of their homes.
Is it really necessary for people to be informed of this upon flying or driving across state lines? Consider this a PSA, then.
This is an example of what you DON’T see. It’s roughly where I live. There’s a LOT of blue on this map slice. The blue is water, and that doesn’t include what pools up in ditches after a good soaking rain. Man-made or natural, if there’s a body of water deeper than spit on a sidewalk, there’s a fair chance you’ll have snapping turtles, alligators, and/or snakes nearby. Just assume they are better at hiding than you are at spotting them and you should be okay.
But you also get Experts assuming they speak with the voice of authority, who get it wrong, and make lots of noise about it. Invariably, there will be someone who goes completely mental about our critters (in a “we must do something about this public menace that lives around our subdivision formerly-known-as-a-swamp” manner), someone who thinks it’s cute (never mind that it’s stupid and illegal) to feed them, and someone who thinks the State of Florida should hand out brochures at every interstate exit letting the Unwary know about the risks lurking just under the waterline, because DANGER!!
Frankly, you’re in more danger of getting hit by lightning on a golf course or being involved in a horrible accident due to impaired drivers getting behind the wheel.
Tragedies happen, sometimes heartbreaking losses, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely preventable. Still, it astounds me when people are shocked that their dogs get eaten while they’re barking at ducks around a pond, or a guy gets attacked while hiding from police by wading into a swamp. If there is a gutter, sewer, storm drain or canal, Florida’s own resident hunters will find a way through them.