A photograph purportedly showing an 18 Foot alligator caught by a construction crew in Florida has surfaced on the Internet. But with the current record for largest alligator being only 14.5 feet, is it possible that this 18 footer really exists? I’m no expert in these matters, so I’ll quote reptile expert Dr. Adam Britton’s examination from his website www.crocodilian.com
Dr. Britton writes, “First, we have to assume the photograph is genuine – not always a valid assumption! Image manipulation is easy to hide, especially in a compressed JPEG photo, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt.
The best way to estimate his size is to compare tail length (which is mostly perpendicular to the photographer) and another known length. Let’s take the guy standing behind him. Let’s assume this guy is around 5 ft 8 inches tall – a fairly average height. The vertical red bar on the photo is my estimate of his total height (remember his lower legs are obscured by the gator’s tail). What I’ve done is copied the bar and rotated it by 90 degrees, then moved it above the tail. Therefore, using this guy’s estimated height we can estimate the alligator’s tail length, which we know is approximately half of the total length.
As you can see, the length of the tail is around 7 to 7.5 feet in length. I won’t argue the details. Double the tail length and we get 14 to 15 feet in length… maybe even slightly more (I’m being deliberately conservative). Not bad at all! Assuming the photograph is genuine, this is an impressively big alligator – one of the largest I’ve seen – but I think 18 feet is stretching it a little bit far!
UPDATE! I have now received confirmation from a reliable source that the alligator in the photo measured 13.5 feet long. The photograph was taken in Florida.
So, I guess that sinks another outlandish internet hoax. Thanks Dr Britton!