by Bob Giguere
When I moved to Florida in my 30s, I was excited to learn about a new environment, a new world that was unfamiliar to me. Here, we are told of many things that can hurt you if you’re not careful: venomous snakes, spiders… even mosquitoes. It’s enough to scare many “out of the woods” and I’m saddened to think of what those who fear nature miss.
There are places in Florida where you can hear the roaring engines of a thundering superhighway, yet be paddling in a primal swamp or hiking in a pine forest habitat. The collision of place is surprising and sometimes very satisfying. In those times, I’m surprised that the spread of man and technology can and still does co-exist in nature. I’ve learned to respect the harmony.
However, recent events have certainly reminded me that there are times when a “collision” of these two worlds doesn’t yield a very good result. The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a testament to what can happen when arrogance supersedes respect! Another news story I recall is one of a man being hurt by a black bear on his back porch, most likely a bear the man had been feeding — an example of what can happen when stupidity supersedes respect! And other times it is an example of just plain bad luck that can remind you that nature really does rule.
Most recently, a friend of Equinox and a life-long researcher of all things aquatic was attacked by an 11½ foot alligator. He was doing what he’s been doing for years, cautiously and respectfully investigating and learning about springs. In an instant, he was the target of another long-time resident of the aquatic world. It was a most unfortunate “collision” of times, both for the alligator and for Pete Butt of Karst Environmental Services. The alligator — by species, a survivor from prehistoric times — knows how to survive in a changing world. Pete, a seasoned and veteran diver is a researcher with great respect for nature. Pete survived the attack and is recovering from a broken jaw. Our best wishes are with his recovery and his continued efforts to educate our citizens about Florida springs. For me it is quite clear that anyone, no matter their experience or environmental back-ground, can be caught in one of these “collision” zones. We are bound to find some immovable barriers to co-existence that remind us we are not in control. At times they manifest as a “mistake” or an acci-dental encounter, but each consequence if very real. Something’s got to give…
I’m certain Pete Butt, after his injuries heal, will continue to immerse himself in a system that has room for both man and prehistoric creatures. What about you? Are you afraid of coming face to face with an alligator, a shark, a black bear or diamondback rattle-snake? Or will you relegate your natural experiences to a “controlled” environment, like a zoo or water park? Shall we attempt to control the danger or control the fear? Give us your opinion.