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Crocodile Goes Head-to-Head With Alligator

Nomadic Notions owner lives to tell the tale

By Sarah Mortimer, Fri., July 4, 2014

Robert Crocodile Corbin at Barton Springs
Robert "Crocodile" Corbin at Barton Springs
Courtesy of Karen Kreps

It would have been an ironic way to go.

Longtime business owner and Save Our Springs Alliance Treasurer Robert Corbin – known to friends as "Crocodile" – was bitten on the head by an alligator during a recent swim at Coleto Creek Reservoir, a shallow lake near the coast.

Corbin, a wilderness lover who discovered a new species of plant along the Colorado River just five years ago, was camping in the area while doing a habitat assessment, when he separated from his party to go for a late-night swim. He said he knew the water was infested with alligators, but he didn't think they posed much danger at the time. Corbin was swimming about 30 yards outside of the reservoir's designated swim area when he said he felt like he had hit his head on a jagged concrete wall and looked up to see a big long splash.

"I knew then it was an alligator," he said. "He had my whole head in his whole mouth." Corbin escaped a second attack by slowly making his way back to the shore where he called for help and was rushed to a hospital by an ambulance. There, he received 30 stitches to wounds across his head. "Nobody believes that I literally had my whole head in a crocodile's mouth," he said.

Corbin and his wife Gemma are longtime owners of Nomadic Notions – formerly a chain of stores selling imported beads and jewelry supplies across Texas and Tennessee. The chain did business for 25 years, but is scheduled to close its last location on Anderson Lane when the couple retires by the end of the summer.

After surviving an escape from the jaws of an alligator, fearless Corbin says he's ready for the next stage of his life. "I'm kind of disappointed after all these years in business, but there comes a time to make changes and everything," he said.

Corbin's stitches were removed on Monday, and his wounds are healing well.

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