A 12-foot-long alligator was shot and killed on Monday after the gator was suspected of killing a 61-year-old man who was snorkeling at Blue Spring State Park. James Okkers was snorkeling with two friends in the warm spring waters of the St. Johns River when the friends noticed James had disappeared out of nowhere. A search lasting several hours ensued and culminated with the search party finding the dead body of James Okkers near the 12-foot-alligator that was eventually put down.
An autopsy was performed yesterday and it was determined that the cause of death was in fact the alligator. This is THE FIRST alligator bite-related death in the state of Florida since 2007, so even though alligators are the apex predators in the swamps of Florida tragedies like this are exceedingly rare.
This is the alligator that has since been confirmed to have killed 61-year-old James Okkers at Blue Spring State Park:
— FOX 5 Atlanta (@FOX5Atlanta) October 21, 2015
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) October 21, 2015
— Frank Fernandez (@frankfff) October 21, 2015
As is the case whenever a shark attack occurs, people are likely to overestimate the threat that alligators pose to them in Florida and the surrounding Southern states. But as I mentioned before, this is the first deadly alligator attack on a human being since 2007, so there’s really no reason to panic at all.
Heck, back in high school we used to have alligators walking around my campus all the time (true story). In fact, one time senior year some student actually found a juvenile alligator in one of the bathrooms. They’re not particularly fast, and they’re definitely not malicious creatures by nature. It’s just always best to stay out of their way when possible.