Beaufort News

Gator stuck in Hilton Head Plantation storm drain

A large alligator, shown here Thursday through a grate, is stuck in a storm drain on Seabrook Drive in Hilton Head Plantation.
A large alligator, shown here Thursday through a grate, is stuck in a storm drain on Seabrook Drive in Hilton Head Plantation. Sarah Welliver, The Island Packet

The alligator could be as long as 12 feet, some onlookers speculate, but it's difficult to tell because only its head is visible in the Hilton Head Plantation storm drain where the rest of its body is stuck.

Unwitting neighbors of the gator, which can be seen in a catchbasin through an iron grate on a Seabrook Drive sidewalk, say it's been there nearly two months.

And they want it out.

"I'm not an alligator-lover by any stretch of the imagination," said Joe Hanley, who lives several houses down. "But I don't want it left there to starve."

Plantation general manager Peter Kristian said the first complaint was filed about a week and a half ago and that the community's security has been monitoring it since then.

Kristian wanted to give the gator a chance to wriggle out of its fix by traveling through storm pipes.

"We're trying to give this poor fellow every advantage to live a long life," Kristian said.

Kristian is worried the gator can't be removed alive.

But its chances of freeing itself are also slim. The pipe is too small for it to turn around, and it appears to be stuck fast.

From underground, it's no threat to neighbors, although it makes loud hissing noises that startle spectators.

It has become an attraction, Hanley said, with people gathering around the grate a common sight.

Joe Maffo, owner of Critter Management, said he is confident he could free the gator. He once dumped olive oil and soap on a 9-footer whose head was stuck in a drain, and it was able to slip out, he said.

"He might have some scars and cuts on him, but I can get him out and relocate him in his own plantation," Maffo said.

Maffo hasn't seen the gator's predicament yet, though.

After getting a call Thursday afternoon from Kristian, Critter Management director of operations Billy Karijanian said they'll assess the matter this morning. But he noted that alligators' ability to go a long time without eating makes the situation not quite as dire as it might seem.

"We're going to try to figure out some type of game plan," Karijanian said. "He could be down there for a year without eating -- so we're not under any time constraint at all."

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