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article imageHundreds of alligators caught on tape in feeding frenzy

By Kim I. Hartman     Jul 29, 2010 in Science
Fargo - A Georgia fisherman recorded hundreds of alligators gathering in a canal in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, in what biologists believe may be a strange feeding ritual. Ray Cason witnessed the gator gathering on two consecutive mornings.
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Ray Cason was expecting an ordinary day fishing when he dipped his boat into the black water at Stephen C. Foster State Park last Saturday at sunrise. But the next few minutes proved to be anything but ordinary.
What Cason, of Homerville, witnessed, and caught on video and film, is a rare phenomenon that some call cooperative feeding, or cooperative fishing. In this case, hundreds of alligators congregated in the boat basin at Stephen C. Foster State Park, near Fargo, and the canal from the boat basin to Billy's Lake, and engaged in what Cason called "a feeding frenzy." Cason caught the rare sight early Saturday morning, and again early Sunday morning. The ritual only lasted about 30-to-40 minutes each morning, Carson told the Clinch County News.
Cason said: "There were 10-foot gators with their entire bodies three feet above the water. Gators rolling all over themselves. It was foggy that first morning (Saturday, July 10), but I bet there were 300 gators I saw in that boat basin and canal."
Cason has provided copies of his videos to the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge officials in Folkston.
"I saw the video, but haven't been it (cooperative feeding) before myself," said Refuge Biologist Sarah Aicher. "Others who have been here longer said they saw it happen once around the (Suwannee River) sill area, where there were a large congregation of mud-fish, and the alligators had a communal feeding of the mud-fish. The alligators, somehow, get a signal and congregate and feed. It's a mystery how they do that."
Cason also posted Saturday's video on his Facebook page – not anticipating the tremendous buzz it would create.
Despite the image of so many alligators in what was called a fish feeding frenzy, Aicher said visitors have little reason to fear coming to the swamp. "This wasn't a sign that the world is exploding or anything like that," Aicher said Monday. "It's still safe to canoe through the swamp, and fish in the swamp. It's just an isolated incident, and a very interesting one.
More video showing the greedy gators in the Okefenokee Swamp.
More about Stephen foster state park, Alligator, Feeding frenzy, Okefenokee national wildlife refuge, Georgia
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