(Above) A full house at the Captiva Civic Center listens to author Charlie Sobczak’s lecture for the Captiva Memorial Library. (Below left) Alligator photographed at the Bailey Tract on Sanibel. (Bottom left) Author and lecturer Charlie Sobczak autographs a copy of his book “Living Sanibel” for Mary Scott. (Bottom right) There was standing room only at the Captiva Civic Center for author Charlie Sobcak’s lecture for the Captiva Memorial Library.
(Above) A full house at the Captiva Civic Center listens to author Charlie Sobczak’s lecture for the Captiva Memorial Library. (Below left) Alligator photographed at the Bailey Tract on Sanibel. (Bottom left) Author and lecturer Charlie Sobczak autographs a copy of his book “Living Sanibel” for Mary Scott. (Bottom right) There was standing room only at the Captiva Civic Center for author Charlie Sobcak’s lecture for the Captiva Memorial Library.

Although there are loads of lethal animals lurking about in Florida and elsewhere, author and lecturer Charlie Sobczak said the one that is statistically most apt to kill or maim you is your fellow human being – perhaps your spouse.

In his Captiva Memorial Library lecture Wednesday (Jan. 30), Sobczak mixed information with both humor and editorial comment in a speech titled “Alligators, Sharks & Panthers or How to Avoid Being Eaten!”

Extra chairs had to be brought out for the standing-room-only crowd that filled the Captiva Civic Center for his speech.

Sobczak began his talk and slide presentation with the alligator, noting that it can grow to half a ton, exceed 17 feet in length, has stomach acid strong enough to digest turtle shells and “stronger jaw strength than the T-Rex” dinosaur. Because it can go into a form of hibernation that enables it to stay submerged for up to six hours, Sobczak said he doesn’t advise swimming in fresh water areas frequented by alligators.

One of the problems of swimming in fresh water ponds,” he warned, “is that you may be there half an hour and never see an alligator. But the problem is, you still have another five-and-a-half hours to go to be sure there isn’t one swimming with you.”

Sobzcak said that while alligators don’t pose nearly the danger that salt-water crocodiles do, he cautioned not to be in alligator habitat while walking a dog or with a pet.

Turning to sharks, he noted that although the fearsome great white shark comes down to Florida in the winter, and Florida leads the world in non-fatal shark attacks, Sobczak concluded, “It is safe to go in the water around here.”

Sharks have far more to fear from humans, he added, noting that due to over fishing they face the very real possibility of extinction. Humans kill about 100 million sharks a year – 20 million for every human killed by them – mostly for shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy.

Although panthers are slowly making a comeback throughout North America, according to Sobczak, there have been no recent Florida panther attacks. He said the panther is far less lethal than the leopard, which has killed over 50,000 people worldwide since 1875.

For all anyone might worry about creatures such as alligators, sharks and panthers, Sobczak remarked, three times as many people will be killed in the U.S. this year by vending machines toppling over on them than the five victims of shark attacks. And falls from ladders will claim an estimated 300 lives in this country during the same period.

Statistically,” he concluded, “it’s your spouse you have the most to worry about. Spousal murders kill about 1,100 people a year in this country.”

Sobczak said the comic strip character Pogo was right – “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Ticking off the major threats facing mankind, he listed nuclear annihilation, over population, flu pandemics and climate change.

The biggest threat of all that we face,” he stated, “is tribalism.”

Focusing on climate change, Sobczak, who also is a realtor, warned that while the melting of the icecaps might not submerge the state of Florida for a couple of centuries, insurance companies are getting more and more adverse to insuring coastal communities and barrier islands – something that might impact this area in the next five years.

Although not mentioning President Trump by name, or his denial of the science of climate change, Sobczak noted that the “red” southern states are going to get hit a lot harder by climate change than the “blue” northern states.

Sobczak’s talk wasn’t wholly negative or dire.

Florida’s panther population, which had gotten down to 29, has grown and soon will hit 300, he noted. The nation’s bison, which once numbered only 579, now number in the millions. Population growth throughout much of the world, including the United States, has now reversed. There are antidotes to increases in gases that contribute to climate change varying from individuals switching to LED bulbs or planting trees, to nations promoting solar and wind power or developing fusion reactors that produce almost limitless energy without emitting greenhouse gases.

Following a Q & A session, Sobczak concluded to appreciative laughter, “Always be careful – especially with your spouse.”

The next major Captiva Library Program will be at the Captiva Civic Center at 3 p.m. on February 20 featuring Emmy and Peabody award-winning composer, flutist and storyteller Kat Epple.