One of the biggest, and likely oldest, gators of the Okefenokee Swamp has died

ATLANTA — He was considered royalty among the Okefenokee Swamp dwellers but researchers with the Coastal Ecology Lab believe a very old alligator has passed on.

The lab posted on Facebook this week that they believe Okefenokee Joe has died.

Researchers said Joe had a GPS tracker on him and it stopped transmitting in July. They initially thought the tracker had fallen off, but researchers found it earlier this week as well several vertebrae.

Okefenokee Joe’s exact age wasn’t known, but it is suspected he had been roaming Georgia’s massive Okefenokee Swamp since World War II, the Macon Telegraph reported.

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“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 in a Facebook comment. “Alligators can live to be approximately 80 years old though so it is possible he was close to that.”

Okefenokee Joe was a massive gator coming in at 11 feet, 5 inches long and weighed more than 400 pounds, making him the largest alligator tagged by the Coastal Ecology Lab in the Okefenokee Swamp.

It is believed that Joe’s territory was taken over by another gator earlier this year. The lab said it appears Joe died of old age.

Information from the Macon Telegraph used in this article.

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