Did You Know That Alligators Love Pink?
The alligator moved stealthily towards us in the grey light just before dawn. Partially underwater in the low tide, his belly spread flat in the mud. Eddie and I watched his progress from the asphalt walkway at the marsh’s edge. Eye to eye with the alligator through my lens, I got the unnerving impression that he was coming for me. The alligator submerged himself entirely in a deep pool once he was about 50 feet away.
What better place to practice with my rented super-telephoto lens than Huntington Beach State Park? Photographers love the abundant wildlife there, especially birds and alligators. Eddie and I headed to the park with the rented lens. I was wearing my brand new trail shoes, a soot basalt color, almost pink. After the first observation, I checked if alligators are attracted to specific colors.
I found out that alligators love pink!
As we left the park, we came across other people we’d met just after seeing the alligator. They saw him lunge partially out of the water toward a covey of birds. I wish I’d stuck around for that shot! Rather than coming for me, the alligator was coming to a favored spot for snaring birds. We also saw two well-worn places where they like to exit the water and cross the path.
Alligators burrow in the mud, creating holes or tunnels. As apex predators, they’re not afraid. They shelter in the mud dugouts or “gator holes” to keep warm during cold periods. Other animals love the alligator tunnels and use them when the alligators move. The holes and tunnels also help the ecosystem during the dry season by holding water for birds and other animals.
In the distant marsh, two alligators tussled as two yellow-bellied slider turtles followed the action. One alligator kept pushing the other’s head underwater to prevent him from advancing toward the turtles. Later, when we checked again, there was only one turtle. I think the turtle slid silently away while the alligators were distracted.
During the morning, I kept thinking of that first alligator sighting. Even though the alligator was not coming to me specifically, I will never wear pink again while photographing them after learning that alligators love pink.
I rented a Sony FE 200-600 mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS and used it with my Sony a7III to practice for an upcoming trip to Tanzania. We were on the path between Atalaya Castle and the Kings Highway, Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet, S.C. The park ranger was on hand to talk about the habits of the alligators.
Generally, the park ranger said that alligators would not come out of the water to attack people. But, some circumstances change their behavior, such as when people feed them. When we feed alligators, they will continue to come towards people for food. Also, when babies are present, they will try to deter people from coming nearby, making loud noises, or lunging toward people to warn them away.
- Don’t feed alligators; they can’t unlearn it once it happens.
- Avoid the edge of the water, “Alligators are fast!”
- If an alligator makes a loud noise or lunges toward you, walk away.
Don’t wear pink around alligators. Alligators love pink!
Otherwise, enjoy taking photos of alligators or go to observe them. They are fascinating reptiles that look much the same as they did millions of years ago. (Alligators Go Back 6 Million Years Further Than Thought, by Jesslyn Shields.)
In addition to alligators, we continued to take pictures of birds throughout the morning. This little bird is one of my favorites!