After Labor Day (and tourist season) is over with, we start doing a final clean-up of all of our alligator habitats. We also try to do a final sweep of the roads we have adopted through the NC Adopt-A-Highway program in Brunswick County. Many of the alligators and habitats that we keep a check on are on private property. We continue to be grateful to the owners that give us permission to come and view these alligators.
Quinn is an alligator that I have been watching since May of 2013. When I first saw her, she was a sub-adult and appeared to be around 3-4 feet long. She lives in a beautiful, pristine marsh habitat. I am extremely happy to say that she is a wild alligator and not a “food conditioned” (illegally fed by humans) alligator.
When we checked on her last week we didn’t see her at first. As we stood there with our binoculars, I heard a familiar sound. A sound I love just about more than any other sound in this world! A baby alligator chirping and calling its mom! When we heard the chirp we both froze. Within just a few moments, we saw Quinn speeding towards us through the water. We knew that she had heard her baby calling her. We immediately backed up and gave her some space. We didn’t see any babies and we decided to leave so as not to cause her any stress.
The next afternoon we went back to see Quinn again, hoping to see a hatchling. When we got there we saw Quinn basking in the water at the edge of her habitat. And right beside of her we saw several hatchlings! They were tiny and probably only 2-3 weeks old. We continued to observe her and more hatchlings swam up to Quinn. We counted 9 altogether! They climbed on her back and on her snout. Some of them seemed to be attempting to bite her on the eyelid and scutes.
We were able to take several photos and a video. I have been observing alligators for over 8 years now and there has only been 4 times that I have seen hatchlings. I feel confident that this is Quinn’s first clutch. All 9 of the hatchlings were chirping and it was a glorious sound. Being able to see Quinn with her hatchlings and seeing her as a first time mom is at the top of my list of my wildlife encounters. I didn’t want to leave the habitat, but I also didn’t want to disturb them. We are looking forward to seeing these hatchlings grow up!
We are very thankful that we got to experience this. It makes all the hard work, the sweat, the no-see-um bites and everything else we do worth it! I have swamp water running through my veins and a love for alligators, both big and small.
To see more photos of Quinn & her hatchlings go to
Meet The Gators
We spent the week after Labor Day at Oak Island. We kept hearing people talk about the hurricane that could possibly hit our area. When we left to go home on that Sunday, we saw businesses and home owners nailing up boards to protect their property. We watched the news every day as Hurricane Florence started making its way towards NC. When it hit Brunswick County and the surrounding areas of NC, it was absolutely heart breaking to see all of the videos and pictures on TV, as well as online. But seeing the damage in person was even worse. It was unimaginable.
We spent last week at Oak Island and during our stay we got to see firsthand the areas that were hit the hardest. Seeing it in person was very sobering. To drive down streets and see people’s lives stacked up in huge piles at the side of the road left me speechless (which doesn’t happen very often). We also had the chance to talk to people and hear what they went through during the storm. We heard many stories about people who didn’t have flood insurance and lost everything they had.
While we were there last week we took several photos of what we saw. We drove down so many streets that had piles of stuff stacked in front of houses on both sides of the street. We took some photos of what we saw, but we have decided not to post them.
We were happy to be able to get to Orton Road where the causeway breached and washed out a huge stretch of the road. They have put down gravel and will be paving it in the near future. We were also happy to see one of our gators. We got some very good photos of where Beau had climbed up the bank and over the road. We could see slide marks where he dragged himself up. He has some HUGE feet!
As Brunswick County continues to rebound from all of the damage it suffered, we continue to pray for everyone who was affected by this storm.
We were very fortunate to have someone (who wishes to remain anonymous) donate a drone to our organization this summer. We were in Boiling Spring Lakes this past week, looking at the damage caused to Alton Lennon Road, due to the breach of the Sanford Dam. We were attempting to video the area with our drone when a big gust of wind came up and blew it into the top of a 50+ foot pine tree. We attempted to remove it from the tree, but the battery went dead. We both thought that that was the end of our drone.
We decided to head towards the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Office to see if our friend Chief Brad Shirley could possibly help us. Along the way, we stopped at a store and ran into a man who was working in the area. We told him what happened and he said he’d try to help us get it down. He followed us back to Alton Lennon Road and within 5 minutes we had our drone back! He used a long switch gear pole. It worked like a charm.
We just want to publicly thank Matt for helping us! He refused to let us pay him for his time, but we did manage to coerce him into letting us take a photo so we could post it on our website. He thanked us for what Alligator Alliance does and he seemed thrilled to have been able to help us recover our drone. THANK YOU SO MUCH MATT! You saved the day!
I try very hard to keep my blogs about the alligators that I love so much and NOT about any personal issues. Recently, I found out that an acquaintance of ours is telling people that he taught us everything we know about alligators and that he “helps” us out from time to time. Nope, that’s not true! I won’t call this person out by name. That’s not my style. I will tell you that I have known this person for less than a year. When I am visiting habitats I call that being on “Gator Patrol.” This person has never been on “Gator Patrol” with me and has never helped us clean a habitat. I knew from the beginning that Alligator Alliance would only be a 2 member organization. Our “Alliance” is with the alligators. They are our TRUE members.
I have never misled anyone about my education or knowledge about alligators. Before I saw my first one in the wild in Southport in July of 2010, I could count on one hand the things I knew about them. I don’t have any type of degree. What I know, I know because I make it my mission to learn everything I possibly can about alligators. I read every book
I can get my hands on. I then use what I have learned when I am observing them in the wild. Having the knowledge of what I have studied helps me when I am with the alligators. In 2019 we will be taking a certification class at CCSB Reptile Rescue & Rehab Center (Chad Griffin) in Kernersville, NC. We have known Chad and his family for years and we look forward to becoming certified alligator handlers.
I started Alligator Alliance in January of 2015. I can tell you the exact moment I came up with the name for my organization. I am the Founder and President of Alligator Alliance. I make ALL of the final decisions. This project is my baby. From July of 2010 through December of 2014, I did everything I could to teach myself about alligators. I knew by December of 2014 that I wanted to do more than I had in the past 4 years. I knew it would be an uphill battle. Let’s face it, alligators aren’t cute and cuddly (although they are BEAUTIFUL to me!). The main focus of nearly everyone in Brunswick County it seems is saving the turtles. I love turtles (and ALL wildlife)! I support the people who work tirelessly to conserve our turtle population. They work extremely hard and do an amazing job. I just knew from the very first day I saw an alligator in Southport that I had found my calling in life. There wasn’t anyone protecting them or cleaning up the trash in their habitats. They needed me to be a voice for them.
My own parents told me that I was crazy for picking alligators to champion. They said it would never work. That no one likes alligators. That I would get hurt in the process of cleaning habitats. That no one would support me. My mother-in-law even laughed at me when I started my organization in January of 2015. She said “What kind of organization has only 2 members?” Did I let it stop me? No! Did I let it slow me down? No! I am very strong minded (some would say hard headed) and independent. When someone tells me I can’t do something, in the back of my mind I start trying to figure out how I can prove them wrong. And prove them wrong I did! Who knew that in July of 2010, as I stood on the side of a road in Southport, gazing down at Charlie (my first alligator), that in exactly 8 years my little organization would be on the front cover of North Brunswick Magazine?!
People, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Don’t let their negativity discourage you. Don’t let anyone take credit for what YOU do. Alligator Alliance was 100% MY idea. No one came up with this except for me. I do not need to follow in anyone else’s footsteps (except for God’s). I follow my own path (mostly through the swamps, LOL). I am unique. I don’t need to copy anyone else. I have my own brain and I can come up with my own ideas. Alligator Alliance is and always will be a work of love for me.
With that being said, I do want to say that I get a LOT of help from my husband (John). Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have a website. Without him, Alligator Alliance wouldn’t have brochures to hand out for free. He is the other half of this 2 person organization. When I came home in July of 2010 and was all excited because I had seen my first alligator in the wild, he didn’t act shocked. When I told him I wanted to start cleaning habitats, he didn’t try to talk me out of it. He said he’d make me an extra long custom grabber to clean habitats with. When I came up with the idea of Alligator Alliance in January of 2015, he said he’d support me (and the alligators) in any way he could. And he has. He has been to every wildlife meeting with me. He has spent countless hours cleaning habitats and talking to people about why alligators are so misunderstood. I wouldn’t say he loves alligators as much as I do, (because I don’t think there is ANY one out there who loves them as much as me!), but he genuinely cares about them. We are both dedicated to conserving NC’s alligator population and keeping them in their natural habitats. My husband is also an amazing wildlife photographer and has had photos published in several magazines.
I’ll wrap this up by giving you a quick update on Alligator Alliance. I had planned to write a children’s book about alligators last year, but didn’t get around to it. I am happy to say that it is now finished. We are currently talking to publishers and trying to figure out the best and most economical way to publish it. I am very pleased about how the book turned out. I love to write and I had an idea that I was tossing around in my head. Then the title popped into my mind and after that, the book was easy to write. We have also designed a coloring book. Like the children’s book, it will also be available in 2019.
Once again, we have to thank NORTH BRUNSWICK MAGAZINE and CAROLINA COUNTRY MAGAZINE! Both magazines have brought so much awareness to our organization. We are so thankful for the support we’ve received. We are happy to know that there are a LOT of gator lovers in NC besides us. The visits to our website continue to astound us. We had over 70,000 new visitors in July and over 40,000 new visitors in August. We thought things were dying down a little bit, but then in September we were pleasantly surprised to have over 60,000 new visitors. We love the GATOR LIFE!