What's your closest encounter, ever, with an alligator? My wish will always be that MY closest encounter with a gator will involve at least HUNDREDS of miles between me and it.

But I've had a close one (not a DANGEROUS one, mind you, but a close one). A friend of mine ALSO had a precarious situation unfold with one in Florida.

When I was a kid, my family and three other families rented a cottage on Jekyll Island, Georgia for the week. Dad and his buddies would go out and play golf while the rest of us would hang out on the beach or tool around the island or drive into Brunswick.

One day, we had to take something to Dad at the golf course. Don't remember what, doesn't matter. When we got there, Dad told us to come over by this pond, and so we did.

He pointed to something sticking out of the water and asked us what we thought it was. We had no idea. Turns out it was an alligator that had made its way INTO that pond during their game. They saw it go in. Consequently, that became the water hazard to END all water hazards.

A buddy of mine had an encounter with a big ol' gator on Interstate 75 in southern Florida. It's the stretch known as Alligator Alley. He was driving across very early in the morning and one was laying across it taking in the early morning sun. He couldn't get around it. Fortunately a sheriff familiar with this kind of situation came along and helped him navigate around it. I would've gone back, but that's me.

As far as eels are concerned, I'd imagine we humans happen upon them a lot more rarely...although they DO make for some good sushi.

In Gulf Shores, however, eels and alligators are a fresh hazard following Hurricane Sally's little "jaunt" through the popular tourist destination.

Eels on the highway:

Gators on the streets:

The only close encounter with aquatic wildlife that I had in Gulf Shores was with a squid, which shot ink out of its whatever when it touched my nephew's very hot boogie board.

He swam away and I got a craving for calimari. Just like I'm now thinking about sushi and smoked alligator. And those are probably the furthest things from the minds of the folks in Gulf Shores at the moment.

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