Claire 29>> was producing a story on people and alligators living in close quarters in South Florida:

  • We spent a few weeks with alligator trapper Todd Hardwick 53>>....He uses a giant fishing rod with a three-pronged hook to snag the alligator’s hide. The alligator’s snapping and hissing and spitting and kicking....

  • We went to an alligator farm because it’s a good place to film really large gators 40>>. There was one there called “Rambo” who’s about 60 years old and 12 feet [3.7 meters] long. His jaws are huge, and they snap shut with this force that sounds like slamming a car door.

  • We wanted to get a “bite shot” for the very beginning of the film, using a camera on a pole....Normally whatever an alligator bites, it keeps.

  • ...I had tried to get this shot two other times and already damaged two cameras....but his owner said, “Rambo can do it.” So we said, “What the heck, it’s just another camera.”

  • He bit onto the camera and let go, and that’s the shot you see at the beginning of the film: this massive, massive gator that strikes as fast as lightning.

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© 1999 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.

Claire on Getting Hands-On

Photographs by
Kevin Krug