Friday, January 29, 2010

Sun Sets On Sanibel Crocodile

In an earlier post I spoke about the horror here where we live year round. Essex County, New Jersey can be a beautiful place, but the ugliness of some of the people and the politics, especially as they relate to the humane treatment of animals, is often down right repugnant. In that post I lauded Sanibel for its incredibly sensitive policies regarding the animals of all kind that live there, and wrote about how the debate on whether to kill large and threatening alligators on the Island was--- and still is----an appropriately active one. But I was reminded again in the last couple of days of just how very special the Island is for its unique view of the environment and the absolute reverence that most islanders hold for the beasts that share their geography.

Though Sanibel has lots of alligators, there was only one crocodile living there.The huge crocodile was called Wilma and she had been a fixture on the Island for over 25 years. Earlier this week, Wilma was found dead on the bank of the Sanibel river, apparently overcome by old age and the unusual and atypical cold of this January.

According to Dee Serage-Century, Landscaping for Wildlife Educator at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) who made the discovery, "Wilma helped define our community as one dedicated to living with wildlife, even the big, beautiful, scary ones. She was unique in her 11-foot length - large for a female - and the northernmost of her species in Florida."

As news of Wilma's passing spread across the island, some of the more shaken mourners were the volunteers who would come across the famous crocodile, either at SCCF, the refuge or in their own backyards. The talk and the sadness would certainly mark Sanibel as distinctly different than my community north and many communities like mine where deer hunting and baited deer killing are done regularly, with relatively little opposition. But, the mourning over the loss of Wilma will not stop with the discussions according to the news reports.

There will also be an informal memorial and remembrance ceremony to be held on the front porch at SCCF, located at 3333 Sanibel-Captiva Road, on Thursday, February 4, beginning at 3 p.m.

"We're going to toast her with Gatorade and share stories about her," said Serage-Century, who noted that a plaque will mark her final resting place along the trail. "She so defined us as a community and a lot of folks will be able to share their personal stories about her. Everyone loved her."

The deer in Essex County should be so loved, so lucky and so remembered.

1 comment:

JadeDragon Sanibel Fan said...

So sad to read of the demise of Sanibel's crocodile. I love your Gaterade toast comment though - so fitting.