Florida is famous for its gators, but the one that Marcy Clarius spotted was a big one. It rested by the side of a lake, and she was able to capture some impressive shots of the giant. But then a dark shape moved in the water nearby – and when it emerged, Clarius couldn’t believe her eyes.
Marcy Clarius, 66, lives in Pennsylvania for half of the year. However, the cold winters have gotten to be too much for her, so she spends November to April in a much warmer climate.
In fact, she heads to Florida to take advantage of the warmer weather there. She has a condo for just such visits, which she’s been using for the past six years. Florida’s weather isn’t the only thing that appeals to Clarius, though.
Indeed, she also appreciates the local wildlife and takes every opportunity to get a closer look. With this in mind, Clarius takes several walks every week with her camera at the ready. And it was this hobby that led to an astonishing encounter.
Florida’s Wakodahatchee Wetlands are just four miles from Clarius’s condo. The wetlands are full of life and Clarius has pictures of turtles and birds, among other creatures. Indeed, there are even alligators living wild in the wetlands.
Clarius is no stranger to Florida’s infamous gators, however – though their novelty hasn’t worn off for her. And on March 23, 2018, she caught sight of one of the wetland’s local celebrities – an alligator named George.
On a previous occasion, Clarius had spotted George close to a wetlands boardwalk and had taken the opportunity to estimate his length. She explained her workings to The Island Packet on March 29, 2018.
“When its nose was at one end, I looked over the other side of the boardwalk, and there was still about three feet of tail left,” she said. Knowing that the boardwalk was six feet wide, that made George an impressive nine feet in length. Clarius and her friends all assumed that George must be the biggest gator in the wetlands.
However, Clarius would later learn that she had been mistaken. The encounter on March 23 began when she caught George lounging by a lakeside in the wetlands. She began filming. At first, the camera just captures the nine-foot gator and a nearby wading bird.
The camera follows the bird as it takes off across the water’s surface. However, it then turns abruptly in its flight. That may be because it’s disturbed by a dark shape moving slowly through the water. It’s another gator, floating towards the riverbank.
You can immediately see that this creature is far larger than George. “I couldn’t believe it was that big,” Clarius told The Island Packet. “When I first saw it, it looked like it was a gator and another one behind it.”
As the gator moves closer to the lakeside, though, it becomes clear that it’s just one reptile. Its size is even more evident when it casually floats up to George. It makes even a large gator look slight by comparison.
Mating season generally begins for alligators in April, though it sometimes arrives early. As a result, Clarius thought she might be witnessing a courtship. As it turned out, the massive reptile had little interest in George, and, in the footage, it ignores him completely.
Instead, we see the gargantuan gator suddenly drag itself out of the water, revealing its full length. “You could hear everybody saying, ‘Oh! I’ve never seen anything as big as that,’” Clarius said. Indeed, you can hear the gasps on the footage when the onlookers see the reptile move.
Meanwhile, the gator appears to be oblivious to its amazed audience. The video sees the creature slowly saunter off across the grass, apparently looking for a good spot in the sun. When it settles, it lowers its bulk back down in plain view of the camera.
Clarius kept filming and captured the moment that George also exited the lake. Far from being intimidated by the giant, George didn’t seem to mind its presence at all. Instead, he lay down in the sun close by – once again displaying the significant contrast in size.
The video ends there, leaving viewers to contemplate just how big the monster gator really is. Clarius estimates that George’s friend is around 15 feet long. Assuming that’s true, it makes the massive reptile the biggest alligator on record in the U.S.A.
The previous holder of that title is a specimen measuring 14 foot, 3.5 inches, which was witnessed in 2010 in Lake Washington. Meanwhile, another giant gator was spotted in Lakeland in 2017.
Witnesses stood in awe as the 13 to 15-foot reptile dragged itself across the grassland in front of them. It was so large that one married couple called it “Godzilla.”
For her part, Clarius was just happy that she caught a similarly large specimen on film. “It’s very exciting to me,” she told The Island Packet. And whether they’re record-breaking or not, there’s no denying the majestic nature of such alligators.