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Alligator shocks beachgoers as it swims ashore in Alabama

Extraordinary sight not uncommon during mating season

Oliver O'Connell
Sunday 14 May 2023 21:43 BST
Related video: Alligator spotted on beach at Canaveral National Seashore

Beachgoers in Alabama were joined by an unexpected guest last week when a massive alligator decided to swim ashore.

Tourists and locals were enjoying the good weather on Dauphin Island when the large reptile emerged from the surf.

Footage of the moment was captured by Mark Harvill and his girlfriend who were warned about the alligator by others but decided to take a closer look.

Speaking to Fox News Digital, Mr Harvill of Mobile, Alabama, said: “Went up, I think, 200 yards from where we originally were and sure enough, you just see a glob every now and then poke its head out. And then, he got washed up on the shore.”

Mr Harvill posted the video he took to Facebook and can be heard expressing his surprise in the background: “Tell me where you can go to the beach and the f***ing zoo at the same time.”

The reptile appeared placid and Mr Harvill told Fox that it “never charged or hissed” — as gators often do — when it came onto the sand.

“It just seemed like he was scoping [things out] and enjoying the different scenery from what he or she is used to,” he told the outlet.

Mr Harvill noted that there is a nearby bird sanctuary on Dauphin Island and the alligator may have come from there.

“He could have easily just trailed through the woods for a little ways and ended up getting onto the beach,” he said.

While it is an extraordinary sight, it is not uncommon for alligators to wind up on beaches during mating season as larger males chase competition away.

On 1 May, one was seen on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida, and there appear to have been multiple other sightings this week on Dauphin Island, Fox 10 reports.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources advises people to never feed or approach an alligator.

According to the agency’s website: “If you encounter an alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets, or property, contact your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries office.”

The agency also advises to be alert, swim responsibly, and never feed alligators as they will then associate people with food.

One of the largest reptiles in the world, a male American alligator can grow to 19 feet in length and weigh up to 900 pounds, while females tend to be somewhat smaller on average.

They tend to only be found in freshwater, swamps or marshes but can tolerate salt water for brief periods. They inhabit a swathe of the American south from the Rio Grande up to North Carolina.

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