According to wildlife ecologist and conservation biologist David A. Steen, the alligator that was recorded in a video this Monday and published by CNN is likely to be real. The video shows a huge alligator walking in the Central Florida nature reserve.
Steen stated that the largest registered observation of an alligator was a specimen that measured 14 ft. 9.25, and was killed in Alabama back in 2014. He said that the animal that is showed in the video “does not look nearly as big as those record-holders,” therefore there is no reason to think the video is a hoax.
The distribution of fake videos through the internet, especially in social networks, is very common. This explains the immediate reaction of some persons when saying that the video was a complete scam, as the alligator seemed excessively big.
However, Steen and other experts have stated that the American Alligator (mississippiensis), can actually get to that impressive size. A curator of reptiles from the Los Angeles Zoo, Ian Recchio, agrees with Steen’s declarations.
“The animal in the video is most certainly an American alligator, and it’s a pretty large one, probably a male. I can’t tell if somebody photoshopped the people in the background, but it appears to be authentic,” Recchio said in an interview with National Geographic this Tuesday.
According to the woman who recorded the finding of the alligator, Kim Joiner, the animal looked like it measured about 12 feet long. The video was first shared by Joiner on his personal Facebook page reaching almost 20,000 shares a few hours after the publication. However, it was not until the video was published by Lakeland Police Department when it got really viral, reaching 600,000 views in just a couple of hours.
Recchio asked for calm as he warned that the conditions of the video might trick the eye and make look the alligator much larger than it actually is. Nonetheless, Recchio didn’t exclude the possibility for the alligator to measure 12 feet long.
There have been more alligator observations recently
Last year, and also in Florida, a recording of a huge alligator walking through the Buffalo Creek golf course located in Palmetto was published on the internet. Snope confirmed the veracity of the video several days after.
The fact that alligators, as well as crocodiles, can keep constantly growing during their lifetimes makes their bodies look impressively big. Although this does not mean than older specimens are necessarily the larger ones.
Added to that reason, there is another factor that has been contributing to the constant spotting of alligators in public spaces. The animal conservation federal policy has helped enormously as the alligator populations are reaching the standard levels.
Recchio explained that this kind of species were historically persecuted and that fact produced the significant reduction of alligators within specific populations, almost to extinction levels. He said that most of the spotted alligators are matured specimens, which were not spotted in the past because a lot of people hunted them.
The recommendation for people if they encounter a huge alligator (or any wild and potentially dangerous animal) is to stay away and immediately call the local wildlife protection services.
Source: National Geographic