Bathers in Alabama were joined by an unexpected guest last week when a massive alligator decided to swim to shore.
Tourists and locals were enjoying the fine weather on Dauphin Island when the large reptile emerged from the waves.
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 Digital News, Mr. Harvill of Mobile, Alabama, said: “I went up, I think, to within 200 yards of where we were originally and sure enough, you only see a balloon every now and then rear its head. And then, he washed up on the shore.”
Harvill posted the video he took on Facebook and can be heard expressing his surprise in the background: “Tell me where you can go to the beach and the fucking zoo at the same time.”
The reptile appeared placid and Harvill told Fox that it “never charged or hissed” as alligators tend to do when it arrived at the arena.
“It seemed like he was looking for [things out] and enjoy the landscape different from what you are used to,” he told the outlet.
Mr. Harvill noted that there is a nearby bird sanctuary on Dauphin Island and that the alligator may have come from there.
“It could easily have crawled through the woods for a bit and ended up on the beach,” he said.
While it’s an extraordinary sight, it’s not uncommon for alligators to end up on beaches during mating season when the larger males scare off the competition.
On May 1, one was spotted on the beach at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida, and it appears there were many other sightings this week on Dauphin Island, Fox 10 reports.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources advises people never to feed or go near an alligator.
According to the agency website: “If you come across an alligator that you believe poses a threat to people, pets, or property, contact your local Freshwater Fish and Wildlife office.”
The agency also advises being vigilant, swimming responsibly, and never feeding alligators, as they will later associate people with food.
One of the largest reptiles in the world, a male American alligator can grow up to 19 feet long and weigh up to 900 pounds, while females tend to be slightly smaller on average.
They tend to be found only in freshwater, swamps, or marshes, but can tolerate saltwater for short periods. They inhabit a strip of the southern United States from the Rio Grande to North Carolina.