Today we finished shooting at the St. Augustine Gator Farm. It was one of those days when you realize how crazy close we come to death in our jobs! In this episode we explore what we can discover about T. rex’s senses, so we came here to film alligators because crocodilians and birds bracket dinosaurs. In other words, if a gator and a bird have the same feature or physical attribute, the likelihood is that dinosaurs shared it too. But to examine or learn anything about an alligator’s sense of sight, sound and smell, meant we had to capture one – and a baby sized one doesn’t count. No, we had to capture the big guy – Hercules was his name. Luckily, not only were the staff extremely talented and familiar with the best ways of doing this but we also had alligator expert, Greg Erickson to assist Phil.
The first step was to get Hercules out of the water and apparently Kevin, one of the handlers, said he prefers to come out in one particular part of the enclosure. But in order for us to get there, we had to cross a small bridge over a stream within the enclosure. No worries, I thought, until Kevin very pointedly warned us that there’s one alligator who likes to lurk underneath the bridge and he can sometimes jump out and snap. Great – now how happy am I to cross that bridge?
So with a handler holding a large stick on each side of the bridge, Phil, Dave our DP, Adrian and I were meant to cross. None of us wanted to go first but being the director, I figured I had to show some bravery so off I went and wouldn’t you know it – that big so and so lurched right out and scared the pants off me! Lucky for me, the handlers gave him a good push back but I’ve got to say, I didn’t envy Phil who not only had to cross the bridge but also had to help wrangle this beast, tie it down and then take some measurements.
The bridge crossings went smoothly after my fright but when it came time for Kevin to get Hercules out of the water – we almost had an incident. Hercules was camera shy and Kevin was trying his best to coax him closer to camera and just in an instant, Hercules lunged. Kevin reacted fast enough to avoid serious injury but Hercules had managed to graze his hand. Kevin was fine but it’s moments like these that remind me just how dangerous our jobs can be.
Be sure to tune in to Jurassic CSI: Inside T. Rex Friday 8P e/p.