This past weekend was the family reunion for my Mom’s side of the family. There were 37 family members and friends in attendance. We began our reunion day with a Louisiana swamp tour. The weather was cool and breezy which was great for us but it limited the wildlife experience.
I grew up in swamp country. My paternal Grandparents raised 9 children on the bayou we toured. I played with my cousins, fished and crabbed on the banks of Bayou Manchac. The tour company was doing a brisk business on this October weekend. It was great to see so many people taking an interest in the bayou way of life.
There were alligators aplenty but the stiff breeze kept the birds and water fowl hidden from view. This was a bit disappointing because Louisiana is called the Sportsman Paradise and is home to hundreds of different bird species.
Here are few pictures of our morning spent on the bayou…As I mentioned there were plenty of gators for the tourists. The alligator found in Louisiana is the American alligator. It has remained almost unchanged since the Cretaceous period. Louisiana has the largest alligator population.
There are an estimated 1 million alligators living in the Louisiana swamps. The American Alligator lives in freshwater environments such as ponds, wetlands, marshes and swamps. The American alligator will grow to be an average of 13′ long and weigh as much as 800 pounds. Large male alligators are solitary territorial animals. When a female alligator is mature enough to reproduce she will build a nest of decomposing vegetation during the summer months. The decomposing vegetation creates heat and the heat inside the nest determines the sex of the alligators. The mother will defend the nest from predators and assist the newly hatched babies into the water. The babies will remain with the mother until they are about 18 months old. Smaller gators like the one in the picture are more tolerant of being in close proximity to other gators. However, the larger alligator of the group will defend prime territory.
The jaw muscles of an alligator are extremely powerful. However, the muscles that open the jaw are much weaker in comparison. An adult human can hold an alligator’s mouth closed with a bare hand. Alligators main prey is smaller animals that can be eaten in one bite. Alligators are typically timid creatures and will avoid humans. However, when humans feed animals in the wild they begin to associate humans with food. This will eventually will cause the animal to lose its fear of the humans and can become a greater danger.
Our swamp tour was on Bayou Manchac near what was once the fishing village of Frenier. Frenier was a fishing village that during the late 1800′s grew to be home to more than 300 residents. The black storm (hurricane) of 1915 destroyed the village and killed most of the residents. The survivors soon abandoned the village. Today Frenier is home to 75 full-time residents and 12 part-time residents.