“It seemed like it was kind of watching and watching what was going on,” said a beachgoer.

Alabama has a lot of alligators. But who likes a day at the beach?

One such unlikely creature was recently spotted riding the waves on Dauphin Island, bobbing calmly alongside beachgoers sunbathing and wading.

Matt Harville, a 27-year-old Mobile resident, came across the lanky gator on May 7 while taking pregnancy photos with his girlfriend on the beach.

He said the reptile appeared to be enjoying the sun and was gently lapping in the waves, attracting several beachgoers to get a closer look – but not too close.

“It didn’t hiss or charge or open its mouth at all,” Harville said. “It seemed like it was kind of watching and watching what was going on.”

Harville took photos and videos of the alligator to show family and friends. His post on Facebook collected 3,000 shares.

“Something you never think you’ll see,” he wrote in the caption. “First time seeing an alligator on Dauphin Island. Heading towards the western edge, be careful.’

Alligators are found throughout Alabama in saltwater bays and estuaries, said Marianne Goldin, outreach coordinator for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“It is unusual to see them in the Gulf of Mexico because they can tolerate different salinity levels,” she said in an email. “They are aquatic and travel long distances in search of prey.”

Harvill said he’s seen things like jellyfish or dark fins dotting the waters of the Gulf, but he’s never seen alligators.

“I didn’t want to step in the water after that!” he said.


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