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FL skiing--need to worry about wildlife in the water?


WBLskier
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This is probably a dumb question, but I am going to ask it anyway. I am going to be skiing in FL in week or so at Cory Pickos. My 5 year old daughter wants to ski there too. I ski in MN and my wife wants me to confirm that we don't need to be concerned about wildlife (i.e alligators, snakes, etc.) in the ski lakes if my 5 year old is going to go. I realize that FL is the water skiing captial of the world, and I realize we ski in MN lakes with plenty of musky, and never give it another thought, but is there anything I should be concerned about with my 5 year old skiing in that area? Thanks.
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Snakes or gators in Florida? Just keep telling yourself they are not active this time of year, it's too cold...

 

The last time I was in Fort Myers, there was a 6 footer on the shore, and I just made sure he stayed on the shore..

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Originally from MN myself. Moved to FL in 92. Was quickly self educated on gators for the same nervus reason. Have owned a lake home in the Orlando area since 95. My daughters been swimming in our lake since she was 9mnths. She's in middle school now. I have had zero worries. AB is correct, this is the time of yr they don't move much. Also Cory's ski school s much to active (large boats lots of noise) for them no matter what time of yr. Most (maybe all) gator attacks over the yrs (very few and far between) can be linked to human stupidity and lack of commen sence. No worries. Come on down. Of course I tell wakeboarders and jetskiers looking for water front property that our lake is infested with them. That works well by the way.
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Yes Cory's is a sanctuary for skiers. The Bass Grow incredibly big but that is all at Cory's.... However George You are wrong about the size of panhandle gators We have a couple that lurk around our slalom course at Deerpoint lake, one of them is rather large somewhere in the realm of 12-14 feet he is a cagey dude as the trappers have not been able to catch him. Clint and I seen him last year in the gator hole

http://static-cl1.vanilladev.com/ballofspray.vanillaforums.com/uploads/FileUpload/d1/d9283b9aeea47e0687bb08a645a88f.jpg

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@WBLskier

Never been to Cory's so I don't know what goes on there but I have lived in FL(Orlando) my entire life and all I can say is there are gators(and snakes) in every body of water here. There are even gators in the salt water rivers(e.g. Indian River). This time of year is also getting to be mating season so the female gators will be aggressive if you get near their nests(mounds on shore near water line), otherwise they will leave you alone for the most part. There are some idiots who feed them after which all bets are off. Also beware of stub tail looking brown snakes in the water. They are probably moccasins and they are always aggressive - and poisonous.

 

But other than that ....

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I skied at Palm Beach Water Sports two weeks ago. As I was approaching 3 ball a diving bird surfaced about a foot inside the ball. It happened so fast I didn't realize what it was until I had past it. Having only skied in Florida a handful of times, it scared the #@*? out of me.

 

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To reiterate @LFF

 

The month of May is the peak of alligator mating season, resulting in large alligators moving between water bodies in search of mates.

 

Mature males are going to be actively moving around during this time of year so you're more likely to see large alligators.

 

After months of hibernation when more dormant during the chillier winter water, large male alligators may get your attention; they're not the only ones active, smaller female alligators are also busy trying to fill their stomachs and put a layer of fat on.

 

They’re mostly interested in shore line activity for prey, typically after killing (drowning), the prey is stored along the shore in grassy areas, guarding it until it rots at which time it becomes palatable & digestible for them. Obviously one doesn't want to meander along unfrequented shoreline. They are mostly aggressive during the May mating season; however it has been unseasonably warm and likely on the move already.

 

Stirred a big one while my daughter was open water skiing some years ago in the Arlington River here in NE FL, fortunately she thought it was a manatee & didn't freak or fall; it was a solid 8-footer though. My other daughter a couple of years later when we were again free-skiing south of Switzerland on the St. John's, while awaiting to start, not one, but 3 gator heads emerged behind her (morning glass), probably just 5-6 feet (generally the distance from the tip of the snout to eyes in inches = length in feet). Fortunately my other daughter was too busy chatting to notice & thus no panic ensued, just put in gear tightened up and told we were "hitting it" Got lucky on her 50% deep water start success at that time. Ignorance is bliss.

 

They are curious, but alligator attacks on people in open, deep water is exceedingly rare, perhaps with the exception of clear-water springs/rivers like Wakulla, but these are not skiing venues.

 

Cottonmouths are oviviparous & appear not to have a particular mating season; they’re just pissed off all the time.

 

Personally I think the Florida environ is more conducive to effective training.

 

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Stats...

Average Number of Deaths per Year in the U.S

 

Bee/Wasp 53

Dogs 31

Horse 20

Spider 6.5

Rattlesnake 5.5

Bull/cow 3

Mountain lion 1

Shark 1

Alligator 0.3

Bear 0.5

Scorpion 0.5

Centipede 0.5

Elephant. 0.25

Wolf. 0.1

 

 

Alligators in Florida have killed 18 people in the last 60 years. The attacks have been increasing in recent years. This increase is attributed to human encroachment into the alligators habitat. Many attacks occur on golf courses, which have been built over drained wetlands.

 

Moral of the story.....your safer skiing than horse backriding, strolling down a wooded path, petting a strange dog, milking a cow, cleaning out the spider filled shed and playing golf. Gators eat more golfers cause their balls are bite size... skier balls are much to large.

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WBLskier, can we agree that its not your wife with the concerns? I understand, we are all friends on here. I, I mean my wife, had the same concerns before we went to Florida for skiing for the first time. We did actually see gator, but they were all real small and stayed far away from us. In fact the state wildlife whatever came and trapped it anyway.

 

I wasn't scared at all, my wife might of been, but not me.

 

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I actually wasn't concerned...until I started reading this stuff. I skied at Swiss many years ago and never even considered it. I lost control once and skied into the tall reeds. I gave it some thought then and held on and skied out with welts all over me from skiing through the reeds. I'm sure it will be fine. Like I say, I see 4 ft. musky probably 6 times a year on the lake we ski on...sometimes lurking at the surface pretty close to us and it has never been a problem. Probably the same thing here...just animals that are foreign to us up here.
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@Roger- The link that you posted says an average of 12 people die each year from snakebites. See the 4th paragraph and the link on footnote # 1. There is a note saying the list for the decades is incomplete, so that may be where the discrepancy is...

 

I have heard a story (unsubstantiated) where a lady was skiing in lake Powell and fell in a swarm of swimming rattlesnakes. Supposedly, the rapidly rising water in the lake flooded a den of snakes, and she was unlucky enough to fall in the middle of them. Not sure if it is true, but what a terrible thought!

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@Roger, ya its probably wrong. Hate to give snakes a bad rap. It's the Internet. Take all stats with a grain of salt. My point was to show that gators are statistacally very low on the list of animals to worry about. And that part is true. @Bruce55 's story reminded me, that back in the mid 90s I did a tournament in Gainesville FL. Not many lakes up there. This lake was big, had 2 coures and a jump. The starting dock was long and elevated and under the dock towards the shore were gators. The sign at the beginning of the dock did worn of gators. That shoulda been my first clue. Wife looked at me and said "don't fall". Later during the tourney they paused cause a frign huge one was crossing the course. Clue #2. Finally when one of the locals told me they generally have to slap the jump with paddles to get the sunning gators off the ramp surface.. that was Clue 3 and never went back. Even with that crazyness the locals seemed unaffected. I believe it's where the University of FL ski team practices as well as a rowing team. My wife was born and raised in FL. Her dad was a waterways law officer. When she was a kid...and I'm not making this up...they swam at the "Gator Hole". She said there were gators within 20 yards sunning themselves. There are places I would not go skiing. Corys and ski Paridise are not on that short list.
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@Marco - the page referred to from the page I linked has no data backing up their claims of 12 deaths/year in the US. A snakebite death in the US is headline news (and very rare) and I'm connected with several Herpetology groups that would have this data if it existed. The Wikipedia page 12/year claim comes from the Survive Outdoors page which does not provide any data to back their claims. The only substantiated claims on the Wikipedia page show 7 deaths in the US for all the 2000s which I believe to be about right.
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@Roger- Makes sense. As I was typing my response I was thinking that you can't believe everything you read on the internet, and that snake bite deaths are similar to shark attacks, as they always seem to make the news.
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One thing I researched on water mocisons/cotton mouths snakes is there inability to "strike" in open water. They have nothing to propel the strike/body such as ground or watergrasses/vegetation. Their open mouth when striking acts as a drag in the open water also significantly reducing strike capabilities. Now if u fall into a bunch.....dont know. I am extremely carfull in and around where my dock is in contact with ground or grasses if a repair is needed. Typically I'll run my weed whacker along any area needing work near the lake. But in open water (99.9% of our time) we are not concerned. Remember these are mostly nocturnal animals. We don't swim or ski at night. Duh..

 

 

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Another over published and rarer than rare occurrence. Seriously, do not get in you car ever again and please do not put your kids in those death traps. Oh, and I do use the ameoba as another way to keeping jetski and wakeboard wannabe homeowners off the lake. Works almost as well as telling them it's infested with snakes and gators.
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@ Wish. Just stirring the pot. When I lived in FL and TX just mentioning snakes kept most people in the boat. Never saw a gator. Never saw a poisonous snake in my life until I moved back to MN. Go figure! Amoeba thing doesn't work up here either. Muskies, those I have seen follow skiers to the boat platform. I always tell the fishermen and bait shops that my lake has nothing biting which isn't lying because most of the time its true. If 5$ a gallon gas reduces traffic I'm all for it too!
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If I ever saw an alligator in PA. I would have a new pair of boots, and the ladies in my life would have some nice new handbags. I skied with Lucky Lowe a few years back. I asked him about gators at his place. At the time He said he only found a little one. On one of my trips to Florida I learned that they have a natural fear of humans. It is against the law in Florida to feed a wild alligator because they will lose their fear of man. That's when attacks occur. There were some canals along the road near Kennedy Space Center. I saw one in the water with the head of a wild boar in its mouth. In PA I have been going to the same lake since I was 10 years old. In all that time I have only seen two snakes. Both of them were common water snakes(non venomous). A year or two ago a black bear was passing through. It swam past a fishing boat completely ignored it.

To the best of my knowledge there are only 4 species of poisonous snakes in north america. Copperheads, Rattlesnakes, Water Mocassins(a.k.a cotton mouth), and I think a Coral Snake. I know copperheads and timber rattlers can be found in PA, but have never seen one and I was in Boy Scouts when I was a kid so I spent lots of time in the woods, and around water..

 

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Back I the day I was taking a footin' lesson @ Ron Scarpas; as we idled out their was a pretty big gator getting some sun on an abandoned dock. As I expressed my concern Ron said that I had a better chance of getting attacked by a deer back in NY than getting attacked by a gator in FL!
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In over forty years of southern skiing, I have never heard a credible story of a skier being "attacked" by a gator or bitten by a snake. There is the old wives tale of the skier falling into the moccasin nest, but that story, as far as I know, is BS. Also, snakes can't lunge at you to bite in the water. On the other hand, I would not let a small dog or a child play in the water near weeds.

 

I've skied at Cory's several times and never seen anything wilder than Regina. I take that back... I've seen Jody there.

Lpskier

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