A pair of tourists (seemingly a father and son) were spotted in Everglades National Park recently, lying on the ground to take selfies about 6ft from an alligator. Another park visitor captured the incident on camera, showing at least two other people snapping shots of the animal at close range.
A photo of the incident taken by merebearfaller was shared by TouronsOfYellowstone, an Instagram account that highlights bad behavior at US National Parks and other sites of natural beauty (including visitors taunting elk and petting bison).
As the National Park Service (NPS) explains, alligators are a keystone species in the Everglades ecosystem. Their nesting activities help create peat, the holes they dig serve as habitats for other creatures, and their nest burrows can act as miniature reservoirs after other wetland areas have dried out during droughts.
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The opportunity to see an alligator is one of the highlights of a trip to the Everglades, and attacks on humans are rare. They are usually caused by people attempting to feed them. As with most wild animals, the opportunity to grab an easy meal can overwhelm an alligator's natural wariness of humans.
They can be hard to spot, so keep an eye out for indentations in the muddy banks of lakes and rivers, created where alligators have rested or slid into the water. You may also hear them before you see them, particularly during mating season, which runs from around mid-April through May.
If an alligator gets too close for comfort, your best course of action is to run. They can move quite swiftly (around 10mph) but not for long, and tend to zig-zag rather than following in a straight line. In the unlikely event that you find yourself in the animal's jaws, fight back as much as possible, and when it tries to reposition its mouth, take the opportunity to free yourself.
For more advice, see our guide what to do if you see an alligator in Florida.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.