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Interview 16:07 - 1:24:30 Play 16:07 - More
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Kent Vliet  

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Crocodilian biology and behavior  

American Alligator -- Alligator mississippiensis 26:35 - 28:53 Play 26:35 - More
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Alligator hiss  

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Time of Day: 1040  

American Alligator -- Alligator mississippiensis 50:32 - 51:51 Play 50:32 - More
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Alligator feeding  

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Time of Day: 1105  

American Alligator -- Alligator mississippiensis 55:30 - 56:38 Play 55:30 - More
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Alligator feeding  

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Time of Day: 1110  

Environmental Recording 56:38 - 1:00:10 Play 56:38 - More
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Lake ambi  

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Time of Day: 1110  

Environmental Recording 1:33:34 - 1:34:02 Play 1:33:34 - More
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Cicada ambi  

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Time of Day: 1145  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
22 Jun 1991 at 10:40

    Geography
  • United States
    Florida
    Locality
  • St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 29.88139   -81.28833
    Habitats
  • Swamp
  • Lake
  • Suburban
    Channels
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1

Alligators
DAT # 2

00:00 -16:02 -NO. Very loud highway ambi. Visitors to alli farm coming. Planes too.
16:07 - Kent: (No) There's an animal in this lake which we call Johnny Pappy. He used to be held in another enclosure where he beat up on all the smaller allis. Moved him to this lake....then he was smaller than big animals in the lake and got beat up. He's a big beautiful alligator. There are dangers in the water, and I don't go in the water unless there's a reason. Do catch them by hand. Used to spend time in the lake¿. used to swim underneath mounted pairs -during courtship. (PLANE) Are dangers, so I stay away.

18:26: Kent: When I used to swim with alligators, I had a few incidences which were potentially dangerous. The worst case was an animal swimming up underwater and grabbing my leg in his jaws but he didn't bite down.... so I was able to get up -no injury. More often, the problems are due to curious animals, not aggressive ones, I always carry a pole with me to push them off. I've been charged a few times in the lake, but usually aware of their visual contact....... wouldn't get in the water with Gomek (crocodile) could grab you and hold you under, potential danger -1700 pounds. Showmen get bit... on was grabbed by the leg, some damage, but usually not too severe........ Head is bony, but sensitive

too noisy........ for more discussion

26:35 -........ FX: HISSSSSSING and highway (watch mic noise -maybe could isolate some of this¿. {NOTE: listen carefully through here as there is more hissing for at least 3 minutes)

29:24 - 30:25 Birds quite loud -cicadas too -some highway ambi

37:03 AC: you've got some gloves there to put on KV: nutria -they're large rodents -these carcasses skinned for their pelts -good protein source.

40:31 Kent: *** That's a large alligator. He's probably just at 11 feet, probably weighs 550 pounds, nice big male alligator. When we start feeding, a lot of alligators will show up....

43:26 .... once they're reasonably sure there's food, 30-40 will start showing up.... they can travel at speeds up to 15 miles an hour in the water.... very powerful tail and they drive themselves forward with it.

44:42 AC: why is it you get in the water with them?

44:46 I started swimming with these alligators years ago when I was working on courtship behavior in alligators. One of the aspects of courtship behavior interested in is how alligators communicate with one another before they ever come in contact. courtship is a stressful period for alligators because they have to close to other allis. they're large and powerful and can injure one another, so they must communicate to one another their nonaggressive intent, and they do that visually, way they hold their body, level and speed with which move. Thought should look at allis from allis point of view.... so I spent some time in very close proximity getting a feel for visual communication.

46:29 AC: Concern?
KV: yes, but did this cautiously..took some trying out. We always tried to use certain safety precautions, stay in water that was shallow --can stand and that will scare them off, carry a stick..... I've spent 45 hours swimming with them in the lake.....

49:24 ***** I'll make a popping call, a feeding call, which will attract some of the animals and then we'll given them some of the nutria FX: POPPPPPPING sound, and then he chucks nutria in the water.... gators start to come.... (DUB whole sequence here -more feeding and more allis eating (watch highway noise after second feeding)

55:19 -more nutria and feeding -more splashing and alli frenzy (note: mix best dropping of nutria with best feeding sequence -keep lots of extra water sounds in and around 59:00 plus one more minute of it -
***** very good quiet water ambi here -all the way to

1:00:10 -little bit of highway sound but still a good quiet bed)

1:01:18 -Kent talks about the bite of an alligator ¬would be perhaps useful if we do a single feature for one of the shows.

1:02:13 AC: what is infrasound?

1:02:30 *******KV: Alligators produce infrasound which is subsonic acoustic signal, a frequency below our level of hearing. It's quite powerful. We have measured its intensity -95 decibels at one meter from a hydrophone under water -would be louder than a human yelling -like a large motorcycle without its muffler. The power of the display causes water around to rain up off their back and sprinkles back down. What we hear is that patter of water around them.... That's when they're producing that infrasound.

(NOTE: Suraya: We need to use this part from Kent, but it only really works if we have some water sound that sounds like the "water dance" to use behind Kent)

*****In male alligators that is immediately followed by the audible bellow. Are actually two bellows -one that is low frequency and transmitted through the water, and that is immediately followed by one of somewhat higher frequency that is transmitted through the air.... appears to come from the torso of the body ¬see the effect -it's very powerful -can feel the power when standing on the boardwalk.

1:05:54 AC: change the way we think about alligators.
KV: does change the way we think about alligator communication. Infrasound is produced only by male alligators. Males recognize other males. Males recognize female bellowing by the absence of the extra bellow.
They use the infrasonic signal and other displays ¬headslap -declaring their position in the lake.... precede the audible bellow with subsonic bellow. uniquely crocodilian form of communication, not found in any other animal group.

Lynn/Alex Listen to this for interview with Katy Payne AC: found in elephants
KV: yes that is infrasound in that it's below our level of hearing, not same display. We don't know how that signal is produced, not known in any animal, how the infrasonic signal is transmitted. Whales too known to communicate low frequency sounds.... have wonderfully complex vocal, auditory communication -wide range from low to high frequency sound. Elephants also produce infrasound -when near elephant can feel that near field effect. That same near-field effect does not appear with alligators, but do feel it pass through solid objects. Never felt it within me.
Could be producing infrasound at other times.

1:10:48 ******Crocodilians as a group of reptiles has been around for about 200 million years....very old group of reptiles. Distinct from other reptiles for most of that time. They are a group of reptiles that included the dinosaurs and gave rise to birds, but separate from other reptile groups in some ways: behavioral capabilities of alligators -most complex reptiles in a behavioral sense -diverse sense of communciation, visual signals, relatively complex parental care behaviors, are a unique group of reptiles.... in many ways similar in behavior, physiology, and anatomy to birds (Note 'this for script)
1:12:46 AC: What are alligators communicating?
KV: It's clear that would be a sex specific display. It is likely that that signal would pass for a good distance underwater.... would indicate a presence of an alligator -allow females to locate males during breeding season; it may assist in forcing males apart so they can keep track with position of other males serves a number of things.... IS a part of the system of communication that alligators have ¿¿¿¿ not a language as such (Airplane) Is one component of communication system used by alligators.

1:15:54 KV: is prmitive -one tonal signal -but not complex. A bird call may have many frequencies. I consider it a primitive vocal signal, a single burst of sound energy -a double burst. 1:16:48 ****** I kind of think of it in a poetic sense the first sound that filled the air, as the vertebrates took over the land, perhaps the insects were already making noises. These sounds, these primitive roars of crocodilians were probably being communicated before the frogs began singing, before the air was filed with bird songs.... kind of think of these as the forerunners.... of songs others capable of. (Note -maybe use this at the top with some very quiet
ambi and allow ambi to grow.)

1:18:53 Suraya: why alligators?
KV: started working with alligators.... wonderful tools for observation behavioral activities.... have to know what doing when working with big animals.... started doing as much as could with them.....

FX: 1:24:52 -- 2 minutes of quiet ambience

1:27:52 FX: louder ambi - 1:33:34 - cicadas
(note: nothing after this)
END 1:34:16

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