Background Switcher (Hidden)

Feeling the Caiman

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I had so much fun shooting the aquatic struggle that I was almost disappointed when the researchers landed the beast and we got to see our quarry close up. It would be flash shots from now on. Rats. But my goodness. That is a BIG CAIMAN. Not your average baby alligator.

As you can see, they've managed to run some electrician's tape around her jaws. Crocodilians have tremendous crushing power to bring the jaws closed, but comparatively little to open them, so you can realistically expect to subdue a caiman with tape. That is, if you know what you're doing. It's the whole principle of successful alligator wrestling. Once you get the jaws closed and secure, all you have to worry about is the tail and feet and the sheer massive fishy strength of the beast. Almost eleven feet long. A very big caiman. The researchers were guessing it was a male, because males get bigger than females.

I was squeezing and palping and feeling the caiman all over like a blind person--we all were. I couldn't believe my good fortune to be able to touch and press the flesh of an animal so mysterious and dangerous. There was something holy about it.

A communion.
It was time to turn the animal over.I absolutely could not get over the beauty of this animal. I had to run my hands over that smooth, cobbled belly skin.

It felt like soft, slightly pliable plastic tile. Tile, laid over someone's torso. There was something disarmingly human about the beast, laid out like a patient on a table. She was completely motionless, heaving a deep, rolling, watery sigh now and then. The researchers bent over her, measuring every possible length and circumference of her amazing length, Lilliputs bent on discovering everything they could about poor, tacked-down Gulliver.

Next: Sexing the Single Caiman.


Wow Julie!! Great pictures and stories here. You got to touch it too? Awesome! I would be scared to death but would also want to put my hands on it! You are so brave!!!

must almost seem like stepping back in time to feel something that primitive and dinosaur-like.

Exactly-like touching a Tricerotops. Totally exhilarating, much squishier than you'd imagine.

Now that is a rare opp.
I would think eleven feet is really big for caimans. I always think of them as smaller than REAL gators ... could be my Floridacentric mindset!! She is beautiful.

FC, as we'll find out in the next post, black caimans have it all over our gators for size. A total surprise to me. I think the roots of our "Caimans are smaller than gators" belief are from pet store experiences we had as kids, with the "baby alligators" that were actually caimans. Well, they don't stay small, as you'll find in the next post.

Holy communion, indeed. What a magical momment!

Did you lay your ear on his chest to listen for a heartbeat? I'm not that brave but I think you are.

11 feet! That's two of me. Holy crap.

That is pretty amazing to think about--11 feet! I have to admit I held my breath a bit at the hands-on experience. There's a certain amount of trust that goes with that, even with his mouth lassoed!

Stunning! I didn't know caiman could get so large. Thanks for sharing your adventures in nature.

Wow--like touching a dinosaur. Wow.

That is totally awesome! What a beautiful beast. I'd be right there with you, Julie: I'd want to touch and explore and know—respectfully, of course, but still...

[Back to Top]