Christmas, FL

St. John's River, alligators and the plight of cows: Exploring beautiful Florida

JoAnn Ryan

St. John’s River winds slowly through the Eastern part of north and central Florida. It’s a wonderfully picturesque river well known to be teeming with alligators.

One day a friend of mine and I decided to head to a small viewing area near Christmas, FL, well past the city limits of Orlando.

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St. John's River, Christmas, FloridaJoAnn Ryan

Considering it was early afternoon on a sunny day in mid-August, we did not see any alligators that day. Pretty certain they were hanging out in the deep cool water somewhere. But while we didn't see any alligators, we did see plenty of cows!

At the time, I didn't think to get any good photos of the cows, which I regretted, and it was only on the ride home that I really got to thinking about them.

(Enjoy the blurry cows... could have used a stock photo but this just seemed more authentic.)

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Bad photo of the cows. St. John's River, Christmas, FloridaJoAnn Ryan

What I really wanted to know is how the cows remained safe amidst all those alligators... hmm. 🤔

Googling it, I discovered a whole lot of conflicting information, but the answer seems to lie somewhere between the size of the cows, the size of the alligators and perhaps a bit of laziness on the part of the alligators. Seriously, eating smaller things like turtles, snakes or fish is just much less effort for them. Remember how low to the ground they are… and staring up at this huge cow… it doesn’t scare them; it just seems like a lot of extra effort to go to.

It does seem to be true, though, that the bigger the alligator the more likely it is to attack a cow. Makes sense. Bigger, bolder. I found all this interesting info on a blog post by Wild Florida: “5 facts about alligators in Florida that surprise people the most”.

Also found this: “15-foot alligator caught eating cattle is killed in Okeechobee, Florida”— New York Daily News (nydailynews.com).

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Black water of St. John's River, Christmas, FloridaJoAnn Ryan

Another thing that amazed me is how the water in certain areas looks almost completely black, like in the photo above! This is due to certain kinds of plants and trees which serve to color the water: "The St. Johns River's color and velocity speak volumes" (jacksonville.com).

Thanks for enjoying wild Florida!

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