Reptiles of unusual size, north and south

4 10 2012

By chance, I received emails this week from two long-time Seanetters who both had close encounters with the reptile kind. Dennis Minsky, walking in Provincetown, MA, found this enormous sea turtle shell and partial skeleton upturned and, I hear, quite malodorous on the sand. It is clear that gulls are undeterred by the stench, and the sand around the remains is a continuous carpet of gull prints.

Advancing decomposition in the remains of a presumed Leatherback Turtle. (photo: Dennis Minsky)

Being largely ignorant of sea turtle identification, I was relieved that Dennis was able to inform me that this was most likely a leatherback. Leatherbacks are enormous when fully grown, and one recently made the news up here when it was successfully released into the wild after stranding on the Cape in very dire straits indeed.

Down south, Martin Vanoy who walks for us in Florida, sent me a report of a 9′ alligator inhabiting a local canal. Martin tells me that he has seen deer carcasses left out for the gator by (presumably) well-meaning but profoundly misguided people.

Martin snapped this photo and sent it to me in an email with the subject line: “Alligator (Big guy!)”

As a result of the supplemental feedings, this gator has lost its wariness of humans and could become a grave danger to pets, kids and other people venturing too close to the canal’s edge. Now, through no fault of its own, the alligator will be harvested by wildlife officials. It’s the same story we see over and over with bears, gators, and all sorts of animals people feel compelled to feed. Hopefully the fate of this alligator will be publicized enough to get at least a few people to understand the consequences of acclimating wild animals to handouts.

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