When hunting, an alligator snatches its prey in its jaws, pulls it into the water, spins it until it passes out and drowns, then stuffs it under a submerged log to marinate for some days before returning to rip it apart. Knowing that, hearing this sound they make, seeing them do this, or witnessing the primeval apathy in their eyes, could make you feel a tad nervous around them.
But I tell ya, watching them swim just might make you fall in love with the leather-hided killing machines. They use their tails to generate motion, which means their limbs are totally still as they cut through the water, looking like bodhisattvas on their way to brunch.
We drove out to the Everglades and saw a thousand birds in the branches of mangrove and cypress, missed the manatees, and met quite a few gators. We approached them lounging by the water in their ancient ease and were tickled by both terror and admiration.