Any scuba diver knows the importance of expecting the unexpected.
A while back, Lazara Rudo, a dive guide and marine photographer in Palm Beach, Florida, was exploring the deep blue sea when he found something unexpected lurking 60-feet down on the ocean floor. An American Alligator, which is a freshwater species. He documented the adventure on his blog, The Living Sea.
Rudo visits many of the save dive sites quite often, and although he often seemingly sees something new on every adventure under the water, he also knows what to expect to some degree. He certainly never expected to encounter an alligator hanging out on Breakers Reef more than ten miles from the nearest coastal inlet, though.
Breakers reef is one of the most popular dive sites in Florida and one of the most amazing marine habitats in the entire state. The area is teeming with coral life, aquatic sponges, sea turtles, and a wide variety of fish. It’s also a frequent hangout for stingrays, spinner sharks, nurse sharks, and hammerheads.
Before he encountered the alligator that had apparently been washed out to sea, Rudo said the most unexpected thing he had seen near the reef was a massive humpback whale in just 40-feet of water.
Rudo guided clients on a dive the day he saw the gator, and the water conditions were perfect. After briefing the clients on what they could expect to see under the water, the adventure began. After seeing some of the usual customers like nurse sharks, turtles, and a stingray, he started drifting towards a large dark shadowy creature about 40 to 50-feet out in front of him. He had assumed it was a stingray and continued getting closer with his clients in tow behind him.
As he got closer, it soon registered in his brain that he was looking at an alligator. He was somewhat in disbelief at what he was seeing. He had spent plenty of time driving around gators in freshwater but never expected to see one in these conditions.
The divers following quickly realized they were swimming towards a gator and elected to hang back as Rudo inched closer, hoping to snap a picture to prove to people he wasn’t lying when he shared the story of seeing a gator more than 3-miles offshore and in 60-feet of water. The gator appeared unfazed by Rudo’s presence and seemingly posed for the photo like it was in a trance.
“I was excited beyond belief. I was simultaneously nervous — more so for the pressures of knowing that this very rare opportunity was not likely to happen to me again, and I had one chance to get a photo. While my danger meter was pegged on redline, I felt pretty assured of this close encounter because I had previous experience with this animal in other areas.”
As his mind danced with excitement about what he was seeing, he began thinking his friends had played a trick on him and submerged a taxidermy gator to the ocean floor to play a trick on him.
Just then, the gator’s eyes shot open and locked on Rudo’s every move. As the gator slowly inched towards him, he flipped it into video mode and started recording. The result is some incredible nature footage. Then, in the blink of an eye, the gator turned around and propelled itself off into the sea and disappeared out of sight, leaving Rudo in disbelief of what he had just experienced.