Florida is a lot of things: gorgeous, eccentric, overdeveloped and one-of-a-kind.
And in this case, the perfect setting for unlikely friends.
Paddling downriver in Silver Springs I came across one of the most unique life snapshots in my time-- an American Alligator using a Turtle as a pillow. I didn’t have long to capture this frame because if you hang on a location too long in close proximity to dormant wildlife, they almost always become unsettled and will exit the scene. And I wanted no part in breaking up this friendship.
Reptiles can always be found sunbathing alongside riverbanks on logs and rocks, it’s how they thermoregulate and control their body temperature. If their core temperature isn’t at a certain degree, they can’t eat and will even become lethargic. That is why it’s important to allow them ample time to take in some rays.
Alligators can and will often eat freshwater Turtles, easily penetrating their shells with their powerful jaws that can slam down like a steel trap at over 1000 pounds per square inch. So the business end of an Alligator seems like a no wake zone for a Turtle. But these two seem to have found an unusual treaty, one that offers the Turtle a refuge from other hungry Alligators, and offers the alligator nature‘s Tempur-Pedic pillow. Or maybe the Turtle had no choice and was just going with the flow.
Either way, it made for a fascinating moment and an image worth pausing a river stroll for. Luckily, I had a telephoto lens on hand in the boat and could sit a comfortable distance to capture this frame. It truly embodies the beauty, reverence and overall weirdness that is Florida, a place after calling it home I still and may never understand, but am absolutely in love with.