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'Okefenokee Joe,' massive alligator believed to have been alive since WWII, dies

The beloved gator was around 11 and a half feet long.
Credit: Harry Collins - stock.adobe.com

WAYCROSS, Ga. — Editor's note: The image above is a stock photo.

A massive alligator that scientists believe had been alive since World War II has sadly passed away.

Affectionately known as "Okefenokee Joe," the 11-and-a-half foot gator died from old age this summer, Georgia's Coastal Ecology Lab said in a post.

While scientists don't know Joe's exact age, they estimate that he may have been close to 80 years old.

"Unfortunately, it is very difficult to age an alligator and you can really only guess based on size and body condition. All we can really say is that he was a very old alligator as he had scar tissue over both eyes and his scutes were worn almost smooth," the lab wrote on Facebook.

The alligator was the namesake of iconic Georgia musician and entertainer Dick Flood. Flood was known for telling stories and singing educational songs about the environment, wilderness survival skills, and swamp life.

Although the lab had only started tracking "Okefenokee Joe" using a satellite tag in June 2020, it says he was the "dominant male alligator in the park for a while."

Based on their GPS data, scientists believe that Joe died around July 20. His final resting place was a peaceful, secluded area of the park.

"We are so grateful to have known him, for his contribution to science and the further understanding and preservation of his species," the lab wrote about the beloved alligator. "His legacy and story will continue to grow as we identify his descendants through our research."