Crime & Public Safety

South Carolina ‘mermaid’ captures gator relocation on video

The Mermaid of Hilton Head has put out a warning about feeding alligators after watching one wrangled for relocation earlier this week.

"The capture process is always stressful for these guys no matter how careful they are," Nina Leipold, the mermaid, said in a Facebook post.

Leipold dresses like a "mermaid" and provides educational tours of the Hilton Head Island area and also runs a photography business.

A video she posted shows the gator in a noose, with someone contracted to relocate it sitting on its back and pressing on its head. A cloth was pulled over its head and its mouth was taped shut.

"This is the fault of whoever was feeding him," Leipold said.

The alligator had become well known to visitors of Hilton Head Marina, Leipold said on Saturday. She said it often swam up to boats — likely looking for food.

"He is definitely associating boats with food or something positive," Leipold said. "I think it was just scaring people."

Leipold said it was reported that the alligator — named "George" — lunged at someone.

George was able to be relocated because he is smaller than six feet, Leipold said. She said any larger and he might have been euthanized.

Leipold uses her role as a "mermaid" to be an activist for environmental issues locally. She has written children books about protecting the coastal environment. She also collaborates with boat tours to provide educational talks.

"My job is to educate people," Leipold said. "I think it is just lack of education."

In March, Leipold brought awareness to beach trash by creating a turtle made out of cigarettes. She used more than 1,200 cigarette butts picked up on Hilton Head Island beaches.