Meet the Alligators

Audrey Laine
Cypress
Sally
Kitty
Laura
Johnny
Okefenokee Joe
Obadiah
Doc
Rambo
BDE
BEI
BDL
BIN

Audrey Laine

Name: Audrey Laine
Sex: Female
Species: American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Stage of Life: Reproductive Adult
Length: 2.65 meters / 8’ 8”
Estimated Weight: 77kg / 170lbs
Tail Tag: Orange, #33
Tail Notches: AL
Tagged Date: 6/22/2018
Tag Status: Removed 4/13/2019
Tagged Location: Skull Lake, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross, GA
Sponsors: Jud and Audrey Laine Seymour

Audrey Laine near hatchlings

Description: Audrey Laine is an adult female American alligator and she was the first alligator to be incorporated into the satellite tag study. Audrey Laine typically resides in Skull Lake, although she may disappear for months at time. In the summer 2017, she successfully nested and several young were seen in late August. However, we were never able to get a full count on how many of her babies hatched due to thick vegetation surrounding Skull Lake and the fact that she frequently relocated the pod of hatchlings. She has not been observed with new hatchlings since 2017. Her den and wintering area were found down a narrow trail that branched off Skull Lake. Although she is not seen as frequently as she was, she can still be spotted on quiet, warm days.

The above photo shows Audrey Laine two weeks prior to being fitted with a satellite tag. She was basking near her five hatchlings in Skull Lake this day. She previously had been referred to as Sweetie for several years by boat guides working as OSP because of her tendency to come to boats when called. While this trait may seem endearing, but it is actually classic begging behavior, the result of being fed by humans in the past. Audrey Laine is a great example of this learned behavior and can be used to educate the public about the dangers of feeding wildlife – both for humans and alligators! She also has a large indentation in her skull on the right side of her snout, likely an old wound that is now healed up. This wound could have occurred from human interference related to begging behavior or during a territorial fight with another alligator.

Audrey Laine Overall Map

This map shows the entire 10 month period (June 2018-April 2019) that Audrey Laine had a satellite tag attached and the movement data that it collected. She spent most of her time in and around Skull Lake and from the data we gathered it seems that she has doesn’t venture out to far from the safety of her established territory.

Audrey Laine Summer and Fall Movement

This shows a good example of some of Audrey Laine’s typical movements during the warmer months where she is moving in and around Skull Lake.

Audrey Laine Move to Den Site and Winter Movement 

Many alligators adjust where they hang out depending on the season. This map shows how Audrey Laine starts out near Skull Lake as usual but then moves to her den area that is just to the south west as the winter months progress. Eventually, her tag temporarily stops transmitting as she enters her den to brumate until the weather warms again.

Cypress

Name: Cypress
Sex: Female
Species: American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Stage of Life: Reproductive Adult
Length: 2.5 meters / 8’ 2”
Estimated Weight: 63.8 kg / 140lbs
Tail Tag: Purple, 169
Tail Notches: C
Tagged Date: 7/29/2018
Tag Status: Tag fell off approximately 05/24/2019 (date of last GPS point before tag was recovered from swamp on June 4 2019)
Tagged Location: Green River @ Grumpy’s Turnaround, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross, GA
Sponsors: Anonymous

Cypress by bush

Description: Cypress is a mature, reproductive female American alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp. Cypress is an elusive animal, often retreating from the sound of boats, but curiously peering at kayakers. Her territory is located off the main boat trail in Green River, beginning NE of Grumpy’s turn around and extending into Indian Trail & up to Berryhill’s old cabin. During fall 2017 and spring 2018, she was observed regularly with 7-8 juveniles approximately 1 meter (3’) in length. Based on their size, we estimate that these were her young from 2015. 2015 was the last year that we observed that she successfully nested. In April 2019, she was seen with a large male suitor, but no hatchlings were observed in 2019 or 2020. Cypress is named after the large cypress trees present throughout the swamp.

Cypress Overall Map

This map shows the movements associated with the 10 months (July 2018-May2019) that Cypress was fitted with a satellite tag. As the map shows Cypress spent most of her time out in the area of Green River near Grumpy’s turnaround as well as the northern half of Indian trail. The trail to the old Barry Hill cabin also seemed to be within her territory but she did not visit there as frequently.

Cypress Sudden Movement in Winter

In the middle of January Cypress suddenly leaves her wintering site and travels larger distances before returning to her wintering site. This map is a perfect example of how brumation differs from hibernation. In hibernation, the animal remains dormant for the entire winter. In brumation, an animal will only lay dormant when cold; if there is a warm spell, they will awaken and venture out as Cypress did.

Cypress Movement During Mating Season

Spring (March – May) is mating season for alligators, during these months they are typically more active as they are out searching for a mate. This map of Cypress demonstrates this very well as her movements increased during the month of April 2019.

Sally

Name: Sally
Sex: Female
Species: American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Stage of Life: Reproductive Adult
Length: 2.69 meters / 8′ 9″
Estimated Weight: 81.69 kg / 180lbs
Tail Tag: Purple, 175
Tail Notches: AJ
Tagged Date: 8/16/2018
Tag Status: Removed 5/9/2020
Tagged Location: Boardwalk Gazebo, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross, GA
Sponsors: Multiple (This tag was purchased from a combination of small donations to the project)

Sally with babies all around her

Description: Sally is a mature, reproductive female American alligator. Sally is a great mother, diligently guarding her nest against predators while the eggs incubate and staying with her young during the first year(s) of their lives. American alligators are known to exhibit site fidelity, often nesting in the same location. Sally has two distinguished nesting sites that she historically uses – one being along the train tracks at OSP, the other being along the boardwalk at OSP. These locations are easily observed during visits to the park, making her a crowd favorite. She successfully nested in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Sally adopted a pod of hatchlings and cared for them as her own. There was no evidence that Sally produced any offspring in 2020 nor was there any evidence that she allowed a male to court her. Sally was actually seen chasing off two males that tried to court her in 2020 in Obadiah and Okefenokee Joe. In the spring of 2021, Sally finally allowed Obadiah into her territory and nested on July 13th next to the boardwalk. Sally’s nest hatched on September 5th, 2021, she laid 30 eggs and 25 of them hatched.

On 5 June 2018, Sally was captured and fitted with a VHF radio transmitter prior to receiving satellite tags for the project. She was then manually tracked by Kristen for a couple of months. On 16 August 2018, Sally was recaptured, and her VHF transmitter was replaced by a satellite tag to provide us with a longer-running, more detailed understanding of her movement locations.

Sally Fascilitating Feeding of Hatchlings

Sally can be seen 1 m from the bank facing the center of the canal. At least four hatchlings can be seen behind her in the shallow water directly against the bank, in an area slightly dug out and maintained by Sally as a nursery site. Sally uses her hind legs to stir up the mud at the bottom of the canal and pushes it back towards the bank using her tail. While Sally is stirring up the mud and pushing water towards her hatchlings, they can be seen swimming closer to her and eating what was assume to be small invertebrates or vertebrates that were stirred up with the mud.

Sally Overall Map

This map shows the entirety of Sally’s movements during her nearly 2 years (September 2018-May 2020) with a satellite transmitter. Sally has a very distinct territory that is shown here. She occupies from Oscars’ pond and the boat dock to the gazebo on the main boat trail. Included in this territory is prime nesting and nursery habitat that is between the low boardwalk and the train tracks.

Sally Movements Fall

This map shows Sally’s movements in the fall of 2018. While the weather is still warm Sally moves all over her territory foraging for food and protecting her territory.

Sally Movements Winter

This map shows Sally’s movements in January and February of 2019 when the weather is still cold. The are she is occupying in this map is one of her overwintering nurseries where she keeps her young during the cold months. She stays in this one area where the water is shallow, and it is easier to protect her young.

Kitty

Name: Kitty
Sex: Female
Species: American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Stage of Life: Adult
Length: 2.72m / 8’ 11”
Estimated Weight: 84 kg / 185lbs
Tail Tag: Orange, 30
Tail Notches: EFG
Tagged Date: Sat Tag 07/17/2019
Tag Status: Active (Needs removed)
Tagged Location: Boat Dock, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross, GA
Sponsors: Project Donors like you!

Kitty with her head on the surface

Description: Kitty is an adult female American alligator living in the Okefenokee Swamp. Kitty spends her time at the front of the park by the boat dock or out in an inaccessible part of the swamp. Kitty has a larger home range than most females as the journey she makes between her two primary locations is a little over a mile. She has not emerged from her dense thicket back in the swamp for several months. This poses a problem as her satellite tag is nearing the end of its battery life. She is named after Katherine Crews Lloyd, a well-known woman of the early 1900’s who went by Kitty. Miss Kitty grew up and previously resided in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Profile Picture Kitty head
Kitty Overall Map

This map shows Kitty’s movements thus far during the two years (July 2019-current) that she has been fitted with a satellite tag. She spends most of her time in an area of the swamp past green river that is inaccessible to humans. Occasionally she will make trips to the front of the park and hang out around the gift shop.

Kitty Largest Move by a Female

Female alligators generally don’t make large movements, but Kitty does so periodically. Kitty moved from a very dense part of the swamp, inaccessible to humans, to the front of the park and back again. The movement shown in this map is over a mile and is the largest movement we have seen by a female alligator in the swamp, though such movements are typical of alligators in other habitats.

Laura S. Walker

Name: Laura (Laura Singleton Walker)
Sex: Female
Species: American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)
Stage of Life: Adult
Length: 2.85m / 9’ 4”
Estimated Weight: 100kg / 220lbs
Tail Tag: Purple 165
Tail Notches: AFG
Tagged Date: Sat Tag 06/24/2020
Tag Status: Active
Tagged Location: Pioneer Island, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross, GA
Sponsors: Okefenokee Swamp Park

 

Laura Walker Basking on Land

Description: Laura is an adult female American alligator living in the Okefenokee Swamp. Laura is 9’4″ and she is estimated to weigh 220 lbs, which makes Laura the largest female in our study. Laura was captured at Pioneer Island in the Okefenokee Swamp Park in the first half of 2020. Laura seems to spend most of her time between Pioneer Island and an inaccessible area of the swamp to the northwest of Skull Lake. We have yet to see Laura with any offspring but she is definitely of reproductive size and age. We are hopeful that we will see Laura reproduce and pass her genes on soon, as she has been hanging out with Obediah in spring 2021! Laura was named for Laura S Walker: a writer, teacher, public speaker and conservationist. Laura Walker outlined a comprehensive program of forestry activity including forest parks. She led roadside beautification projects, sought to create forestry legislation and worked to establish civic organization forestry plans. People began to take notice of all that she had done for nature and her community. Even the president took note of her and in 1937 President Roosevelt established the Laura S Walker national park in her honor. This made her not only the first woman to have a national park named after her, but the only living person to ever have a state or national park named after them. In 1941, it was transferred over to the state and became Georgia’s 13th state park. To learn more about Laura S. Walker, the names sake, click on the link Laura S Walker: The Woman Behind The Park | Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites (friendsofgastateparks.org)

Laura Walker Overall Map

This map shows the movements of Laura Walker during the 14 months (June 2020-current) that she has had a satellite tag attached to her. So far, she seems to spend most of her time at either pioneer island and the front of the park or out in the swamp to the northwest of Skull Lake.

Laura Walker Big Move

In this map Laura makes a fairly large move from the front of the park out into the swamp to the northwest of Skull lake and back again.

Laura Walker March Movement

This map shows Laura’s increase in movement during the month of March 2021 and her trip to Skull lake which has not previously been a part of her territory.

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All photos by University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, unless otherwise noted.