Florida resident Selina Phillips was hiking on Wednesday afternoon (May 4) at the 1,267-acre Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland when she filmed an alligator doing a front flip off a wooden deck bridge that piered out over a swampy marsh.
“I didn’t actually spot the big gator (when she was walking past it), that’s the scary part. I had my back turned to the opposite side of the bridge and stopped to look at a great blue heron when I heard the noise — a strange loud, heavy clomping sound,” Selina said, according to Miami Herald.
After hearing the strange noise, Selina turned around to see the 8-foot alligator climbing onto a bench on the bridge before using it as leverage to climb onto the deck’s 4ft fence railing.
She said, “So I turned around and saw him half way up on the bench inside the fenced area where (humans) usually are. … How did it get there? Did we walk past each other? Did it walk behind me when my back was turned or was he already there?”
Once it got to the top of the fence that was actually installed to keep wildlife out, the gator then proceeded to keep going and it did a front flip over the railing into the bushy swamp waters below.
She and another hiker watched from a safe distance and said when it landed there was a long, discomforting silence that made them wonder where it might have gone.
“We walked out on the fenced area to look for it and it was sitting right there, hissing just under the bridge,” Selina said. “Seeing the climb and the strength and will power, I walked away more cautious. … I am a native Floridian so I’ve seen lots of gators and still it was so very cool.”
Selina posted the video to Facebook, tagging the reserve and it’s been viewed more than 71 thousand times. Some viewers commented on what they thought about the encounter.
“Oh great. My ‘irrational’ fear of walking down a boardwalk to find an alligator at the end was just justified,” Tara Brogan wrote on Facebook.
“If they learn how to open doors, we’re in trouble,” Elizabeth Ross posted.
“This is the stuff of nightmares for me!” Jessica Candelario Heringer wrote.