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Surfing gator at Alabama beach generates social media buzz

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There are plenty of alligators in Alabama. But how many enjoy a day at the beach? One such unlikely critter was spotted riding the waves recently on Dauphin Island, bobbing calmly near the human beachgoers. Matt Harvill was among those who saw the gator casually swimming in the ocean last week. Harvill said it "didn't hiss, charge or open its mouth at all." He said it looked like the reptile was "spectating and seeing what was going on." The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says alligators can sometimes be found swimming in the Gulf of Mexico as they can tolerate a variety of salinity levels.

Matt Harvill, a 27-year-old Mobile resident, came across the lengthy gator last week while at the beach taking pregnancy announcement photos with his girlfriend.

He said the reptile seemed to be enjoying the sun and gently breaking waves, attracting several beachgoers to get a closer look — but not too close.

"It didn't hiss, charge or open its mouth at all," Harvill said. "It seemed like it was kind of spectating and seeing what was going on."

Harvill snapped photos and videos of the gator to show family and friends. His post on Facebook garnered 3,000 shares.

"The things you never think you'll see," he wrote in the caption. "First time seeing a gator on Dauphin Island. Heading towards the west end be careful y'all."

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

"It is not unusual to see them in the Gulf of Mexico as they can tolerate a variety of salinity levels," she said in an email. "They are aquatic and cover long distances as they forage for prey items."

Harvill said he's seen things like jellyfish or a dark fin slicing through the Gulf waters, but never an alligator.

"I didn't want to step foot in the water after that!" he said.

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