Alligators: Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape

Overview

During the past nine years, photographer Martha Strawn has taken more than 40,000 photographs of the alligator - in freshwater marshes and swamps, lakes and ponds, rivers, bayous, brackish estuaries, and saltwater coastal marshes and backwaters, from Texas to North Carolina. Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape offers a selection of 151 of Strawn's photographs in a unique book that combines art, science, history, folklore, land ethics, and literature to tell the story of America's southern ...
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Overview

During the past nine years, photographer Martha Strawn has taken more than 40,000 photographs of the alligator - in freshwater marshes and swamps, lakes and ponds, rivers, bayous, brackish estuaries, and saltwater coastal marshes and backwaters, from Texas to North Carolina. Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape offers a selection of 151 of Strawn's photographs in a unique book that combines art, science, history, folklore, land ethics, and literature to tell the story of America's southern landscape and one of its most evocative creatures. Strawn covers such topics as mating and reproduction, hunting, loss of habitat, resource management, and the commercial mean and skin industries. Three personal essays bring home the relationship between alligators and humans: "Memories of Gator Hunts," by alligator hunter LeRoy Overstreet; "Living by the Wetlands," by Jane Gibson, a conservation anthropologist; and "Living with Alligators," by ecologist J. Whitfield Gibbons. These stories give voice to the people - hunters, alligator farmers, meat and skin processors, scientists, and wildlife managers - who spend their days and nights with this noble member of the order Crocodilia.

Alligators offers a selection of 160 of Strawn's photographs in a unique book that combines art, science, history, folklore, land ethics, and literature to tell the story of America's southern landscape and one of its most evocative creatures. Size D. 240 pp.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Photographer Strawn spent nine years conducting a visual study of alligators in their natural habitat, the American South. Here, she's selected over 150 color photos and complemented them with written text that combines equal parts art, science, history, folklore, ecology and literature, supplemented by three in-depth essays by alligator hunter LeRoy Overstreet, conservation anthropologist Jane Gibson and ecologist J. Whitfield Gibbons. Strawn has a clearly felt enthusiasm for her subject that emerges in the fascinating details she uncovers about these ancient reptiles-such as, you can kick an alligator in the side and not worry, but if you unknowingly step on top of one, the moment you take one foot off, you're doomed. Readers will learn how alligators hunt, mate, raise their young, and how humans have affected and often threatened their lives. This book isn't just about alligators, but the people who use them; and some readers may be turned off by the extensive sections on hunting, slaughtering and processing gators by Gibson, Overstreet and Strawn (Strawn even adds a tongue-in-cheek recipe called "Fire in the Swamp," involving alligator tails, grits and blueberry puree).
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Photographer Strawn spent nine years conducting a visual study of alligators in their natural habitat, the American South. Here, she's selected over 150 color photos and complemented them with written text that combines equal parts art, science, history, folklore, ecology and literature, supplemented by three in-depth essays by alligator hunter LeRoy Overstreet, conservation anthropologist Jane Gibson and ecologist J. Whitfield Gibbons. Strawn has a clearly felt enthusiasm for her subject that emerges in the fascinating details she uncovers about these ancient reptilessuch as, you can kick an alligator in the side and not worry, but if you unknowingly step on top of one, the moment you take one foot off, you're doomed. Readers will learn how alligators hunt, mate, raise their young, and how humans have affected and often threatened their lives. This book isn't just about alligators, but the people who use them; and some readers may be turned off by the extensive sections on hunting, slaughtering and processing gators by Gibson, Overstreet and Strawn (Strawn even adds a tongue-in-cheek recipe called "Fire in the Swamp," involving alligator tails, grits and blueberry puree). (Apr.)
Library Journal
Living in the wild in several Southern coastal states, with its largest populations in Florida and Louisiana, the alligator seems to hold a grip on the American psyche far stronger than its numbers and geographic range would suggest. The centerpiece of photographer and art professor Strawn's tribute to this fascinating wetlands reptile consists of 160 color photos. These are interwoven with the author's text, along with three essays contributed by an anthropologist, an ecologist, and an alligator hunter. By no means an exhaustive study, Strawn's very readable and attractive book touches on history, ecology, management, economics, folklore, and, most of all, the evolving alligator-human relationship. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Libraries collecting in this area should also consider Vaughn L. Glasgow's A Social History of the American Alligator (LJ 9/1/91).-William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
From the Publisher
Alligators by Martha A Strawn is interesting to those who have ever seen one of these prehistoric monsters who still thrive in the Southern waters and wetlands of the United States of America. These creatures have fascinated and frightened and threatened people of all ages through all ages. This book gives all the gory details of living near alligators: how to catch and kill and cook and eat them! (Yes, they taste like chicken...I have eaten them!) The habitats, history, fertility, management, pollution, and all aspects of their life cycles are thoroughly described. There are many farms and ranches which actually want and grow these gators. Industrial uses of their meat, skins, etc. are plentiful, so they make money for people, and they are a big tourist attraction.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

MARTHA A. STRAWN is Professor of Art Emerita at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and a photographer based in Florida who is recognized worldwide for combining aesthetic and scientific inquiries into the study of place that she calls visual ecology. She co-founded The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film in Charlotte, and she has served on numerous boards throughout her career, including Friends of Photography and the Center for the Study of Place. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to India and also a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in photography. Her work is exhibited internationally in both art and science museums, among them the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Smithsonian Institution, Science Museum of Minnesota, San Diego Museum of Natural History, Princeton Art Museum, National Geographic Society Museum, Museum of Florida Artists, Mint Museum of Art, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Her books include Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape and, with renowned geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, Religion: From Place to Placelessness.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Alligators in the American Landscape 1
Mysterious Crocodilia 9
Wetlands and Deepwaters 16
Alligator Management 20
Destruction 24
Animals and Habitat 26
Eyeshine 31
Memories of Gator Hunts 33
The Hunt 36
The Catch 50
The Weigh-in 54
Products 64
Mating 72
Baby Gators 77
Resource Management 81
Effects of Human Population 88
"Water" 96
Pollution 98
Fire and Fertility 102
Sustainable Use of Natural Resources 106
"The Alligator and the Hunter" 109
The Land 110
"Marsh" 110
The Land as Habitat 112
Alligator Research 121
Ranching and Farming 129
Living by the Wetlands 135
Processing 140
Alligator 159
"Big Alligator" 160
A Different Way 161
"Fire in the Swamp" 167
Prehistoric Presence 168
"Guessing the Alligators at the Charles Towne Landing" 169
Mutuality 170
Deepwaters 184
"Florida" 186
Living with Alligators 187
Four Views of the Everglades 193
Blackwater 199
"Eyeshine" 203
Wetlands and Deepwaters 205
"Meditation" 207
Wetlands 208
Coda 209
Notes 211
List of Plates 214
Suggested Readings, Recordings, and Viewings 217
Acknowledgments 221
Index 223
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