Alligators. Snakes. Chiggers. Leeches. Mosquitoes. Muggy days. Chilly nights. When it comes to ominous environments, it doesn’t get much more intense than a swamp. And southern Georgia’s swamps have no equal. Though they are wildlife havens and breathtakingly beautiful in their own way, they are not friendly. On this episode of Survivorman, Les Stroud dives into the Altamaha River basin for seven days and learns just how physically and emotionally brutal the swamp can be.
The Altamaha River flows 137 miles to the Atlantic Ocean, where it joins the ocean near Brunswick, Georgia. In the 19th century, it was a major commerce route between the coast and Georgia. Miraculously, it remains in its natural state. Designated as a bioreserve by The Nature Conservancy in 1991, it features at least 120 species of rare or endangered plants and animals, including many migratory birds. It is North America’s third largest freshwater contributor to the Atlantic, and its 26-square-mile estuary is one of the largest intact estuaries left on the Atlantic coast. Its river basin supports the United State’s only old-growth black oak and longleaf pine. At the end of this episode, you will see Les deconstruct his shelter and return everything to the way he found it. This is the only way to treat nature, especially an untouched area like the Altamaha River Basin.
While the swamp may be a refuge for endangered species, it makes Les feel like the endangered one, and for good reason. Large threats like alligators and snakes call the swamp home, and as Les finds out, rattlesnakes are among them. Other snakes common to the Altamaha River include cottonmouth and brown river snakes. While the brown water snake isn’t venomous, it looks like a cottonmouth, whose bite can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences. As for the alligators, Les sleeps a few feet from the water where American alligators lurk. American alligators are the largest crocodilian reptiles in the southeastern U.S., growing up to 15 feet long. These apex predators have one of nature’s strongest bites, inflicting 2,125 pounds of force on their victims. It makes sense that the thought of them prevents Les from sleeping!
It’s not necessarily the large threats that do the most damage. Mosquitoes swarm Les and chiggers dig into his skin, forcing him to resort to smearing mud on his exposed skin for some protection. Cold hits him hard at night, hunger drains his energy, and loneliness stretches his days into eternities. Learning how to deal with stress, discomfort, and isolation all factor into the survival experience, and Les gives some of his best advice: get busy.
When you watch Survivorman, you’re enjoying content that sparked the entire survival genre in reality television. You’re watching the real deal. Les handles a week alone with only his camera gear and survival skills, carefully documenting what he does to survive. Watch him survive while respecting his environment, finally making a way to get back to his friends because he is Les Stroud, and he doesn’t want to wait for them to come to him. Dive in today!