Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bite Me - Muérdeme

An alligator bit off the hand of a man fishing in Lake Trafford on Thursday. This is the lake I take people to for an airboat ride on our tour. Lake Trafford has an estimated 3000 adult alligators. It is the highest concentration of alligators per acre in the world.

Read the news article and watch the video (which is hilarious for the reporting alone).

Currently due to the drought, the lake is 7 feet below normal. That's bad and that means the alligators are packed in like sardines. It also means that people can't fish from the pier. Their worms would just hit mud when they cast out. Instead some of the locals have turned to cast netting which involves walking out into the lake (full of alligators) and casting their net in the hopes of catching fish.

(photo not mine)

When Luis Hernandez did this on Thursday, he reached down to pull in his net and an alligator bit his hand. Not off initially, but the bones were crushed and the hand was dangling by a tendon. That too is not good. My first reaction was "what an idiot". We see these guys wading into the lake every day while we show people hundreds of alligators. They have been warned by law enforcement and wildlife officers. But since they are supposedly catching exotic Tilapia and not native fish, they are not breaking any laws by wading into the lake (full of alligators). I say this without exaggeration. The lake is normally 1600 acres when full. It's 1000 acres or less now and we see hundreds of alligators every day.

Normally the fishermen wade out with helpers. One to watch for alligators and the others to haul in their catch. It's still dangerous but the fish are free and Tilapia costs $4.99 lb at the local Winn Dixie. I don't know this man. I don't know his situation. I don't know how desperate his situation is. For all I know this is the only way he can put food on the table. Is he an idiot? No. Is he taking a risk? Absolutely.
His hand will not be reattached.

Another sad result of this dangerous behavior is that an alligator ended up getting culled. Fish and Wildlife reported catching the 6 foot gator after an hour of looking. This is preposterous. To find the alligator in that lake (which is full of alligators) is like finding 2 snowflakes that look like alligators. It's that ridiculous. So instead, to quell panic and fear of a man eating alligator they no doubt killed the first alligator they could find.

So I feel bad for Luis Hernandez who may or may not have had to wade into a lake (full of alligators) to feed himself. I'm sure he didn't want to lose his hand but he might as well have had a sign on that said "Bite Me" (Muérdeme en Español)


  1. That's really a sad story, all around. I feel bad for the man but I really feel sad for the alligator that was being nothing more than, well, an alligator!

    I hope you get some rain soon. Maybe it will be sooner than later with hurricane season right around the corner.

  2. The stupid thing is that the alligator they killed wasn't the one that did it! "I'm innocent!" said the alligator before they turned him into gator nuggets.

  3. I think his shirt should have said, "Comeme Lo que Puedas!"

  4. Not sure what you meant to say. "Eat what you can"???

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  6. Not sure what you meant to say. "Eat what you can"???