Smile: Weekly Photo Challenge

“My smile is the most potent weapon I possess.”

Andy Andrews




Here on Kiawah we are quite accustomed to the “smiles” of our resident alligators, which I’ve chosen as my subject for this week’s SMILE challenge. This fellow has been around a while and I think gives new meaning to the term “toothy grin” ๐Ÿ˜‰



“The devil doesn’t smile, it grins.”

Reem Aquil

The Town of Kiawah is currently working with biologists and animal specialists from the Medical University of SC and Clemson University on a large research project to study these amazing animals. There are approximately 700 gators throughout the island, typically found sunning or swimming in and around our many ponds and lagoons. In the capture above you can see a GPS device that’s been attached to Gator #12, monitoring his habits and the size of his territory.



โ€œWhen life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have a 1,000 reasons to smile.”

Laura Miller

Our gators come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest having just emerged from eggs the mama gators have protected for just over a month, to adults measuring 12 or 15 feet long. It’s been said that the youngsters are the most dangerous, as they’ve not yet learned to stay away from humans. For the most part however, gators and humans peacefully co-exist – happily sharing the bounty of our beautiful environment.



“When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.”

Steve Maraboli

Like many humans, gators love to bask in the sun. Above we see three juveniles, probably 2 or 3-year-old siblings, sharing a sunny spot on the banks of a lagoon. Soon they will learn they must compete for territory and will more likely fight one another than share. Survival of the fittest is definitely their modus operandi, which has been honed over centuries of successful evolution. Interestingly, alligators have been around in their current form for some 85 million years. Even more interestingly, they are members of the species crocodylomorpha, which has been inย existence ย for over 200 million years. ย Perhaps that’s why they’re always smiling ๐Ÿ˜Š.


To catch a few more of this week’s smiles, click here.










84 thoughts on “Smile: Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. Went to lecture on the gators & that study recently & they are roaming around quite a distance! No night walks for me ๐Ÿคข

  2. As always, I thoroughly enjoy your pics and comments

    When u spoke of the gator being around awhile and smile I thought of him being โ€˜long in the toothโ€ Not bad for 6:30 am


  3. So you decided to stick your iPhone onto an ๐ŸŠ alligator with chewing gum. Not very responsible Tina! You may not know this but those grins aren’t smiles! None the less I enjoyed this Tina and assume alligators are more placid than crocodiles

    • Very difficult to tell an alligator from a crocodile Abrie. Something is different in their jaw construction I think. In any case I am more than careful with my chewing gum sticking! As for docile, they definitely are not but I think because there is so much prey that is easier for the taking they rarely bother with humans. Too boney ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by my friend.


  4. Please tell me you used a telephoto lens to take these shots! They’re terrific and the gators are so “toothy” that they make me just a little nervous. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad they coexist peacefully with humans. I was always taken aback by the signs near the creeks and canals in Florida that casually remind motorists that alligators are swimming there….which is far more effective than warning people to drive carefully!!

    • After nearly 20 years on Kiawah I still find them fascinating and am always on the lookout for them. I have a number of places that are a near-guarantee for any visitors who ask for a gator sighting :-), Thanks as always for your visit and comment Judy.

  5. Nice take on the challenge Tina. I know what they’re thinking with that sly smile/grin…c’mon, just a little closer…lol. Don’t know if i could get comfortable with those guys hanging around. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Nice smile collection, Tina! These fellows tend to make me smile, too. Interesting that their travels are being tracked; I’ve wondered how far an individual alligator might wander.

    • Well I did try to take a bit of a different approach this week Anita – and you must admit they DO seem to be smiling, don’t you think? Appreciate your stopping by.

    • We do indeed Jude – there’s a large male gator who frequents the lagoon behind my home who has a girlfriend across the way in another pond. He goes back and forth constantly and we always get a laugh out of it. Of course when my granddaughter visits he’s nowhere to be found ๐Ÿ˜ก

  7. Fun alligator pics, Tina. Fascinating creatures and always exciting to spot on the island. Cool that they are studying them but those transmitters are much worse than the tags on the deer’s ears or the bobcat collars.

    • The transmitter are indeed quite large Jane, but I think because their armor is so think they probably need more heft to monitor them. I was impressed at the number of gators they’ve counted across the island. 700 is way more than I’d have thought.

    • Thanks Amy – the good news is they rarely move so shooting them is fairly simple. Of course, that doesn’t count the time I had my lens focused on an egret and almost walked on one of the biggest gators I’ve ever seen which happened to be at my feet as I was focused upwards. YIKES! If I’d been alone that day I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the story but happily my nephew shouted a warning before what would have been a certain calamity.

  8. I have always pondered (not very often) how they got those transmitters on them and……. I understand took urine specimens…… Wouldn’t that be “special” and fun. I think one of our alligators lost his transmitter during the winter. Alas!

    • OK now you’re just grossing me out ML ha ha ha. Hadn’t heard about the “specimens” they collected and prefer NOT to think about how they got them – ewwww!!!

    • Excellent thought Terri – never thought about the dolphins but you’re right, they too look like they’re always smiling. Maybe we should learn something from both species. They say even if you force a fake smile before long you will actually be happier. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. Great pix as always and good info on our gators. Would think they could have come up with smaller tracking devices.

    • Thanks Laurel! I thought the same thing but I suspect it has something to do with the depth of their armor plating. Not sure what the plan is when it comes time to end the study. Will they take it off or just assume it will fall off eventually???

  11. Nice interpretation for the theme. You have also managed to give us a lot of information. I wonder how the gator feels about having that GPS device sticking out of its back.

  12. Two hundred million years…a reason to smile. Never failed to be impressed with those creatures. Keep smiling.๐Ÿ˜Ž

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  14. Love the “toothy grin” and odd couple pics, Tina. “We are quite accustomed to the ‘smiles’ of our resident alligators” – I admire how you humanize the wild. And I’m always impressed with the quality of your pictures and the great captions. Happy weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Toothy grins indeed, Tina. The gators looks like they are cozy at home, but sad to hear that they might need to compete for territory. Hope each of them are at least a bit nice to each other and maybe they all can come to understanding the idea of sharing some day ๐Ÿ˜Š I also love busking in the sun…but not all the time as my skin burns easily! Such an interesting research project going on in your backyard and hopefully there will be interesting findings ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Mabel โ€“ they are amazing creatures really. They can go months on a single meal and are quite laconic considering how well equipped they are for aggression! Happily, if we donโ€™t bother them, they donโ€™t bother us ๐Ÿ™‚

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