With their durability and time-tested armor plating, this amphibious-fighting machine should make it the envy of every Marine and sailor aboard Camp Lejeune.
But instead, recent sightings of these indigenous reptiles near a New River Air Station waterfront venue has base officials throwing in the beach towel as the New River Marina Swim Beach closes indefinitely.
Community Services issued a statement June 26 warning base residents and recreationists about “multiple gator sightings.”
“New River Marina is closed effective immediately and people should not go in the water. Outdoor Adventures Evening Kayaking on June 27 and Moonlight Kayaking on July 8 will be held at Gottschalk Marina,” MCCS officials wrote in the statement.
The American Alligator has long called Onslow County home before the first settlers centuries ago discovered the “flat land” and Uncle Sam carved out a foot hold on the shores and estuaries along the New River.
“It’s not unusual to see alligators in that area. They’re firmly robust,” Evin Stanford said who is the coastal region supervisor for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Stanford said base officials have the proper permits to handle alligator issues within the boundaries of the installation.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s website, alligators’ natural habitat includes the coast land and inland waterways of eastern North Carolina including portions of the New River and other tidal creeks throughout Onslow and Carteret counties.
The carnivorous species is a hardy lot with a life span of more than 50 years growing in size to more than 12 feet. Once American Alligators achieve a length greater than four feet, their dominance in nature is only surpassed by humans.
From June through early July, female alligators are engaged in reproductive activities preparing nests made from vegetation for the more than 35 to 50 eggs each female on average lays. The incubation period lasts up to 65 days, according to the Smithsonian. Stanford said “not all female alligators are laying eggs” since it takes between 15 to 18 years for this species to reach reproductive maturity.
Four years ago, a 14-foot alligator living in a Jacksonville tributary near Henderson Drive devoured an 80 pound husky that was frolicking near the water’s edge with its owner. The alligator was captured and euthanized by Wildlife officials and is on permanent display at the Onslow County Environmental and Branch Library in Sneads Ferry.
Base officials are taking no chances and are reminding people that wild animals should be respected with distance and caution. MCCS is suggesting alternative sites for people to cool off such as Camp Lejeune’s indoor pool or Onslow Beach. For details, please call 910-451-1440.
Reporter Mike McHugh can be reached at 910-219-8455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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