Welcome to the official Okefenokee Joe Enterprise newsletter July edition. Don't forget to get your FREE SONG! DOWNLOAD AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS NEWSLETTER, THE SONG 'WHY DO GATORS BELLOW' by OKEFENOKEE JOE!
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The following is a transcript from Okefenokee Joe's series of recordings “Swampwise Secrets, Songs, And Stories From The Land of the Trembling Earth”. This is an excerpt from Volume ONE:
Why Do Gators Bellow?
As long as I live I will remember the first time I ever heard an alligator bellow! It was Oscar, our famous and biggest resident alligator! and I didn't just hear him bellow! From less than twenty feet from him, I watched him do it!
It was a typically calm, and warm spring afternoon. I had been working at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia, for less than a week. Oscar, our giant resident alligator, was enjoying the comfort of the sun on his back, as all thirteen plus feet of him lay there on his island, seemingly at peace with the world.
Then, as if he had just remembered something really important, he raised his head up off the ground, and took a deep breath. Holding his tail up, with his belly on the ground, his head slightly raised and huge jaws partially wide open, he let out with a terrific, loud, and honest to goodness, real life alligator bellow! I know it was just my imagination, but it felt as if the ground all around me was shaking! The sound of that bellow added one more reason, to the long list of reasons, why Oscar was most definitely the king of the swamp!
During my years in the Okefenokee, I heard many an alligator bellow. I was surprised to learn that even tiny alligators bellow. Males and females alike, in the water or up on land, wherever they happen to be, if they feel the urge, they will bellow. In my book, “Swampwise”, there is a whole chapter devoted to the American Alligator, and what I learned from them.
Much scientific data has been collected on the meaning of the bellow. Some data suggests that it's a mating call, and at the right time of the year, it most certainly is. Some studies have shown that an alligator marks it's territory with it's bellow. It seems that there are possibly multiple different circumstances that might cause an alligator to bellow. Maybe, even the alligator itself, could not explain its actions, or tell us why it bellows!
Because I was so interested in wild animal behavior, I kept almost daily notes on what I would see, and hear concerning the animals I was working with, and the truly wild ones out in the wild. I have one notation written on April 28, 1978. I was camping on an 18 thousand acre deer and bird hunting plantation in South Carolina.
It states that, “I heard an American Alligator bellowing, in a salt water pond, not far from my tent. It was 3:48 am, it was raining, and the temperature was a chilling 43 degrees”! Now why in the world would an alligator bellow under those conditions?
To possibly help clear the matter up, I have written this song. It is called “Why do gators bellow?” It can be found in my album, “The Best of the Legendary Okefenokee Joe”.
Purchase "Swampwise Secret, Songs, And Stories from the Land of the Trembling Earth" and other really awesome stuff at the SWAMP STORE SALE.
Okefenokee Joe 1932 - 2023