May 22, 2024

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp - Ida's Pond

CREW Bird Rookery Swamp - Ida's Pond

Since 2024

In Florida, US


This chronolog combines 2 photos from 2 contributors. Learn more

About this site

Welcome to Ida's Pond... the home of the original One-Eyed Ida and subsequent generations of her progeny.

From the time CREW Bird Rookery Swamp first opened to the public in 2011, visitors were likely to encounter a large, aged female alligator who made this pond her home. Noticing she only had on functional eye, one visitor aptly named her “One-Eyed Ida” and the name stuck. 

Ida made her home here for many years, and while she never displayed aggression towards human visitors, she was fiercely territorial with other alligators. She lived alone. Adult alligators were summarily run off and younger ones were as likely to be on her menu as the fish, birds and turtles who also call this pond home.

Ida became habituated to visitors walking by and was rarely interested in moving unless she was startled, felt threatened, or had a nest or young to defend. Despite appearing relatively harmless, she was nevertheless still a wild animal, just like the rest of the wildlife here at CREW. Ida’s size and her habit of sunning herself on the tram trail was understandably the subject of concern for many visitors. Some began stockpiling sticks and stones in the area just before Ida's pond to “protect themselves from the vicious beast,” while more daring (foolhardy?) visitors regularly stepped or jumped over Ida on those occasions when she blocked the trail.

To defuse the potential for conflict in these interactions, a platform was constructed out in the pond to offer Ida an alternative resting spot away from visitors. Time and weather have taken the toll on what was once a somewhat grander structure; only parts of the deck and floats remain. 

You might wonder, “Did Ida ever use the raft?” Yes, at least one time, but not for the reasons it was intended. She was once using the raft ramps as a “tool" instead of a tanning bed. Ida had captured a four-foot juvenile alligator and was attempting to subdue her captive by slapping its body on the surface of the water. She suddenly stopped and swam to the raft and proceeded to bang her prey on the wooden ramp. The struggle ended quickly. 

Although Ida was never observed using the raft to bask in the sun, juvenile alligators have been occasionally spotted hanging onto the edges of the ramps, and birds and turtles have found the raft handy.

“One-eyed Ida” disappeared when Hurricane Irma swept through in September 2017. The next year, a second one-eyed1 alligators appeared, but neither her size nor markings matched those of her namesake. Visitors started referring to this new resident of Ida’s Pond as Ida 2.0. It may well be that this alligator is one the original Ida’s offspring and that her legacy lives on.

Your photo contributions will help land managers, scientists and students better understand the hydroperiods of CREW Bird Rookery Swamp and the diversity of flora and fauna found here.  

NOTE: Several possible causes could be responsible for an alligator to lose one of its eyes, such as infections, a run-in with another alligator, or being on the receiving end of the sharp beak of an Anhinga or other wading birds.  

About Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed

The CREW Land & Water Trust is a private, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW).

CREW is the largest intact watershed in Southwest Florida, straddling Lee and Collier Counties.

What does this unique watershed do for Southwest Florida?

  • Recharges the groundwater for our drinking water supply
  • Offers natural flood protection
  • Purifies water
  • Provides habitats for wildlife
  • Offers a beautiful space for public recreation

We carry out our mission statement by coordinating the land acquisition, land management, and public use of this 60,000-acre watershed in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, which owns a significant amount of CREW and manages that land – including the CREW trail systems, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission , which monitors wildlife and hunting and provides law enforcement. Other partners include Conservation Collier  and Lee County's Conservation 20/20 .


Coordinates: 26.31598, -81.62984

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