Okefenokee Joe, an 11-and-a-half-foot alligator who is believed to have lived in a Georgia swamp since World War II, has died, officials said.
The alligator passed away from old age, the Georgia’s Coastal Ecology Lab said, and had been part of a satellite tag program. The lab had been observing his movements in the Okefenokee Swamp since June 2020, according to a statement on Facebook.
The celebrated alligator’s exact age was unknown, but he “was a very old alligator as he had scar tissue over both eyes and his scutes were worn almost smooth,” the lab said. “Alligators can live to be approximately 80 years old though so it is possible he was close to that!”
Joe was last tracked via GPS on July 20, and the lab said, “We first thought the tag had simply fallen off as it had been several weeks since we had received any GPS points from him.”
But after several weeks, the satellite tag was found and the lab confirmed his death.
“We are so grateful to have known him, for his contribution to science and the further understanding and preservation of his species,” they said.
Joe weighed in at more than 400 pounds and would have been considered a “dominant male in his day,” the lab shared in a Facebook post last year. “However, we suspect that his old age and poor vision hinder his ability to compete with younger alligators at this point.”
The Okefenokee Swamp spans more than 430,000 acres along the Georgia-Florida border.