August 2010

Beware Of Alligator

Author: Hilary Kraus

With the island bursting at the seams with tourists this time of year, we thought it was high time for a brush-up course on our favorite lagoon loungers: gators. Yes, we think they’re pretty special too, but common sense tells us to admire them from a distance.

For the skinny on the topic, we turned to expert, Bill Karijanian of Critter Management, Inc., gator aid to thousands of residents and tourists for nearly 20 years. Karijanian says he receives about 200 alligator-related calls a year. Here are a few of his tips:

A Kodak (or SanDisk) moment could cost you an arm and a leg. Spotting an alligator while out for a bike ride, a walk, or sightseeing screams “photo-op.” After all, how cool would that be on your Facebook page? On the contrary, it’s just the photo opp-osite! Dismiss the idea of getting close enough to see the blacks of the gators’ eyes. Take pictures from a distance.

Karijanian has seen people dangle their little ones over the edge of lagoons just to get a picture with an alligator. That’s just downright dangerous and stupid. It is impossible to know the disposition of a gator or whether it’s a female protecting her babies or eggs.

Feeding could turn into a frenzy. Don’t feed an alligator no matter how tempted you are to get a closer look. It’s the worst thing to do, because alligators start to associate people with food. They have very small brains and don’t know people are not food. And being mistaken for a t-bone steak could be harmful to your health.

Let go of that $4 ProV 1 (or discount-bin X-Out). It’s easier for a golfer to take a drop and play on rather than get a few feet away from an alligator to retrieve a ball. You don’t know what the gator is going to do. (Remember, small brain.) For those who find themselves in the terrifying predicament of getting chased, it doesn’t matter if you take off in a beeline dash or calmly walk away. Just get outta there.

H2O Sports, on the pier at Harbour Town Marina in Sea Pines Resort, offers a safe place to check out alligators. Erin Dyer, manager of the nature center at 149 Lighthouse Rd., said people should stop by to see Cali and Bogey. (Get it? Calibogue). The 8-month-old critters came from Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach. Admission is free.

For a fee, you can go out on the water with H2O Sports captains, who are U.S. Coast Guard licensed and trained specifically in the areas where they work.

“They do this day in and day out and know where all the alligator dens are,” Dyer said.

For information, visit or call (843) 686-5323.

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