When Sharon Whiting visited her local golf course, she hadn’t expected to find a giant alligator on the green. Nevertheless, the discovery thrilled her, and she decided to capture the beast on film. But, as she panned her camera right, she realized that they had company.
Whiting is a Florida native; she lives in the community of Rotonda West on the state’s picturesque Gulf Coast. Consequently, she spends a lot of time outdoors, soaking up the area’s famously sunny weather.
People from across the globe know Florida for its pristine golf courses. After all, according to the State of Florida, it is home to over 1,250 courses, which is more than in any other U.S. state. Naturally, then, golf is a popular pastime in Charlotte County, the area where Whiting lives.
Whiting herself often enjoyed a few rounds of golf at her local club, and in April 2017 she was doing just that. Yes, she was out at Charlotte County Golf Course when she noticed something on the green.
There, in the distance, was a gigantic alligator. As she was far enough away from the monstrous reptile, Whiting instinctively whipped out her camera and filmed the breathtaking animal as it plodded towards a pond.
American alligators live throughout the southeast of the U.S. and tend to live in freshwater wetlands such as swamps and marshes. Males can grow to up to 15 feet in length, while females can stretch to almost 10 feet.
As human populations have increased, though, people and alligators have found themselves living side-by-side in Florida. Consequently, some residents have discovered the animals in their backyards and swimming pools, and attacks on humans and even fatalities are not unheard of.
However, Whiting felt comfortable around the gator, as it was a good distance away from her. So she kept quiet and observed the majestic creature for some time. But, as she continued to film, she suddenly had the feeling that they were not alone.
As a result, when the adult alligator dipped beneath the water, she decided to pan her camera to the right. And that was when she spotted them. There, making their way towards the water, was a procession of tiny alligators.
As the little gators followed their mom to the safety of the nearby pond, Whiting continued to film. As she did so, she counted an impressive 16 alligator babies on the green. Needless to say, it was a magnificent sight to behold.
But it wasn’t the first time Whiting had spotted the mother and her babies. In fact, she had been observing the alligator family for quite some time. She’d initially noticed the group in February 2017 and had been looking out for them ever since.
According to Whiting, the alligators had been residing in another pool nearby. However, the water there had recently dried up in the warmer spring weather, and the family had needed to find another home.
That’s why Whiting had spotted the fearsome creatures on the golf course that day. Whiting believes the mother had to transport her clan in smaller groups, before going back for more. Soon, however, she had all her babies safely in the pond.
“It took her all day as she had golfers to contend with,” Whiting told FOX 13 in April 2017. “I stayed and video-taped them, hiding behind the palm trees.”
Interestingly, young alligators tend to stay in their mother’s care for a year. She will protect them until they reach 4 feet in size and can defend themselves against predators, and they may live in a small pod with fellow juveniles.
After recording these amazing scenes, Whiting decided to share the footage on social media. “In our backyard,” she wrote alongside one of the videos. “Mama gator moving her 16 babies. It took her all day, but she finally moved them to the pond and finally joined them.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Whiting’s extraordinary footage proved popular online, and hundreds of people had shared the video within a matter of days. Many of them couldn’t resist sharing their thoughts in the comments section too.
“This is way too cool,” one viewer wrote. “A nature lesson in the making. I love those little babies, all 16 of them! Can you imagine 16 little ones? And mama gator is one big mama! Thank you for sharing.”
“Hi Sharon, you don’t know me, but I live in Rotonda West also and viewed your videos of the march to the pond,” another viewer commented. “Mom and her 16 [babies] are famous! Thanks for such wonderful videos. Nature at its finest!”
Hopefully, the mama alligator will be able to rear her babies in peace in their new home. And perhaps golfers will learn to respect the animals’ presence on the course, although it’s probably wise not to go swimming for any lost golf balls.