Alligator Goes For A Swim Atop His Manatee Friend
"In 40-plus years of living in Florida, it was a first for me."
This viral photo is being called the "most Florida picture ever."
Dana Menk recently shared the curious image online, taken while visiting a kayaking spot near her home in Jacksonville. It was there she spotted, moving through the clear waters of a canal, an alligator who appeared to be hitching a lift on the back of a manatee.
"Took me a minute to realize what I was seeing," Menk tells The Dodo. "In 40-plus years of living in Florida, it was a first for me."
Menk says she doesn't think the alligator was actually getting a ride (they are quite capable in water on their own, after all), but the duo hardly seemed to mind swimming so close in tandem. They moved together like this for about 100 feet.
In fact, Menk suspects the odd arrangement might have even been the manatee's idea.
"The alligator was directly over her most of the time," she explained. "I've seen manatees scratch their back on kayaks and structures, so who knows, maybe she was getting a back scratch."
Fortunately, while we can only speculate if the scene Menk captured is of some budding interspecies friendship, it's apparently not one of malice. Florida Fish and Wildlife says alligators regularly coexist peacefully with manatees, and aren't known to prey on any larger than a calf.
If the gator was indeed hitching a ride, it's worth noting that the species hasn't always been on the receiving end. In another viral photo taken not far from Menk's in 2015, a raccoon was spotted purportedly using an alligator as a lookout point.
Only in Florida.