(Trends Wide) — Okefenokee Joe, a 3.5-meter (11.5-foot) gator believed to have lived in a Georgia swamp since World War II, has died, authorities said.
The alligator died of old age, the Georgia Coastal Ecology Laboratory said, and had been part of a satellite-tracking program. The lab had been observing their movements in the Okefenokee Swamp since June 2020, according to a statement on Facebook.
The exact age of the famous alligator was unknown, but “it was very old, as it had scar tissue in both eyes and its scales were almost smooth,” the laboratory said. “However, alligators can live up to about 80 years, so it’s possible it was close to that!”
Joe was last tracked via GPS on July 20, and the lab said: “We first thought the tracker had just fallen off, as it had been several weeks since we had received GPS signals from it.”
But after several weeks, the satellite tracker was found and the lab confirmed his death.
“We are very grateful to have known him, for his contribution to science and the greater understanding and preservation of his species,” they said.
Joe weighed over 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and would have been considered a “dominant male in his day,” the lab shared in a Facebook post last year. “However, we suspect that their old age and poor vision hinder their ability to compete with younger alligators at this time.”
The Okefenokee Swamp spans more than 174,000 hectares (430,000) acres along the Georgia-Florida divide.