Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Louisiana Swamp Tour Alligators

Tuesday July 22, 2009

This Louisiana swamp tour started out with a family from India, as seen above.

Before we left the landing, the lady in the front of the boat asked if it was safe. She was really concerned about alligators. I do appreciate her concerns.

As seen in the signage below, the only time alligators are really aggresive towards people is when they are nesting or have been fed by people.

To protect the alligators from dumb tourists(sorry if the shoe fits!)
We have had to close the walking trail to everyone as seen below.

The problem with tourists approaching an alligator nest is that most tourists don't know that the alligator is nesting there to start with and worse, most don't know an alligator nest when they see one. At this point, out of curiousity they get closer to investigate this interesting looking mulch pile, and being unaware that the moma is usually very close to the nest, in the water, and ready to fly out of the water onto land, just like she does when feeding, the tourist is caught off guard big time.

When approached a moma alligator will launch herself from the water onto land with such speed and force that you might hurt yourself trying to get away! She then starts hissing to warn the intruder that she means business. All of this is really a big bluff for the most part, but mission accomplished from her stand point.

Consider this: anyone filing a complaint with the Wildlife and Fisheries against an aggressive alligator is causing that gator and possible other gators to die. By law, the Wildlife and Fisheries is required to remove(meaning kill)any alligator that causes an aggresive alligator complaint. They come out and set a series of hooks baited with chicken, on heavy fishing line, and kill every alligator that they catch.

It is an outdated, and mostly stupid law, but none the less it is in place and enforced and many alligators die from doing something as natural as protecting their young.

And so to protect alligators from stupid tour guides please consider the following: As of August 2008 the state of Louisiana banned the feeding of wild alligators anywhere by anyone(including swamp tour guides), except on alligator farms.

We lost about 50 of our big gators at Lake Martin, in the last 10 years because another tour guide was feeding every gator around the lake while on tours.(And I am quoting him on that.) Feed an alligator one time, one day, and he is coming up to your boat the next day. Then when he approaches someone who doesn't know the alligator has been fed, they usually shoot it to "protect" themselves or call in an aggresive alligator complaint. Either way the gator dies.

I started him in the business and taught him better, and tried to warn him of the consequences of feeding all the gators all the way around the lake, but apparently my so called friend, doesn't care who or what he destroys to make a buck.

Truth be told, they don't eat us, we eat them, and because we are their only natural enemy, alligators have nothing to fear except human beings, so they always hide when someone approaches that they don't know. Unless... a moma alligator is guarding her eggs or someone has fed the alligator.

In the later, a fed gator is a dead gator! They become a pest and have to be exterminated. As a result of swamp tour guides and tourists feeding gators we now have a good law in Louisiana govenment designed to protect alligators from being fed. So.. any tour guide who feeds gators is in violation of Louisiana law as of August, 2008.(some laws are not so stupid) I do have to wonder why this law was so slow in coming.

If you are a visiting tourist and you want to see a gator upclose in the summertime, please consider your interests as secondary to the alligators survival. Should an alligator approach you, do not feed it to lure it closer, or fear it, because someone else has already fed it and it's long-term survival depends upon learning to avoid contact with people. And if you do feed it, consider it may cause you to be given a citation and a fine.

Below is a trumpet flower AKA crossvine, which is a favorite foodsource for hummingbirds and butterflies. Just try to take a photograph of something that has like 90 wingbeats a second!

I am working on the hummingbird photo, and I know where there is a nest! But in the meantime, I have some butterfly photos below.

Above is a Yellow Swallowtail on a passion fruit blossum

After todays tour we went to Chicken on the Bayou in Henderson. I need to ask the owner if the sign is being repaired or if they are changing the name. As you can see in the photo below, the sign on the front of the building is being renovated. If you click on the link above, you can see how it looked before the hurricanes last year.

Then there were a few signs I hadn't noticed before, as seen below.

In the cooler below you can buy smoked alligator sausage and crawfish boudin!

And in the freezer below, are frozen delicasies such as alligator, turtle, and frog meat. You have proberbly heard that we eat everything in Cajun country. Not true. We are born into the greatest pantry of wild foods in North America, and we only eat the good stuff. But, to the outsider, it looks like we eat everything!

And here is the best the best reason for visitiing the Chicken on the Bayou.
I had Crawfish Ettouffe with fried shrimp as seen below!
And... Christina had the fried shrimp poboy as seen below.

The Chicken on the Bayou(AKA The Boudin Shop) is typical of the little mom and pop restaurants where the food is as good as home cooking, and reasonably priced compared to the tourist traps which are typical references at the tourist information stops along I-10.

And for music this week I went to see Cedric Watson at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette as seen in the photos below.

Everyone genuinely had a good time!