SARASOTA (FOX 13) - If you want to see alligators, one of the best spots in the entire state is not far from Sarasota. But only a few people each day are allowed to make the trek.
The gators gather around what's called the 'Deep Hole' sinkhole, which is a 200-foot-wide, 130- to 140-foot-deep pool at Myakka River State Park that has become known for its high population of alligators. As SkyFOX flew over the hole Wednesday, dozens of alligators -- and a few vultures -- lurked along banks and dozens more were in the water.
Two brave kayakers slowly drifted through the water, eyeing the alligators who, presumably, were eyeing them back.
The spot is considered one of the best gator-watching sites in the park, and even in the state.
"There's food, there's water. A lot of the things they need, they can find here," park ranger Chris Zizak said in 2017. "I've never, ever seen alligators in this kind of concentration or number anywhere else that I've ever been."
Tourists can only get to the site with a special permit; 30 per day are available.
Wildlife photographer Lee Dalton made the trek through the park to capture the scene for himself. His photos show piles upon piles of alligators sunning and, occasionally, snacking.
"At first I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing," he told FOX 13. "I'd never previously seen more than one or two at a time, so to see close to 200 was surreal. It was a phenomenal experience photographing the alligators -- to see such a huge number massed around the banks of a relatively small area was incredible."
Dalton has travelled the world from his U.K. home to photograph dangerous wild animals, including jaguars in Brazil, black caiman in Guyana, and anacondas in Venezuela. He says he wasn't scared here in Florida, but knew he had to watch his step.
"It was quite intimidating at first to see such a huge number of potentially dangerous animals, but I soon realised that these alligators were more interested in sunning themselves than in their next meal," he continued. "I would, of course, keep my distance as they can run over short distances incredibly fast."
LINK: More information about the Myakka River State Park. You can also call them to arrange a visit by calling: (941) 361-6511.
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