South Carolina

Gator flushed by Matthew goes for a swim at Grand Strand beach

A gator wandered up on shore near the Briarcliffe Acres area of Myrtle Beach the afternoon of Oct. 12, 2016.
A gator wandered up on shore near the Briarcliffe Acres area of Myrtle Beach the afternoon of Oct. 12, 2016. Submitted photo

A 6- to 7-foot alligator was spotted emerging from ocean waves in the Briarcliffe Acres area Wednesday afternoon. It was relocated by an area wildlife removal specialist.

The gator was spotted between Lands End Boulevard and Briarcliffe Acres near the Meher Spiritual Center. Horry County police were notified about the displaced animal around 2 p.m. and called the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

S.C. DNR called in Russell Cavender, area nuisance and wildlife removal specialist known professionally as “The Snake Chaser,” who helped capture and relocate the lost gator.

Alligators and other water-based animals often get displaced after storms, and Cavender said while he hasn’t received many calls about lost nuisance animals yet, he likely will.

Cavender was also called out to wrangle a gator in mid-August when the 3- to 4-foot, beach-bound animal wandered up on the shore in Myrtle Beach near 43rd Avenue North. An alligator ending up in the ocean isn’t terribly unusual, Cavender said then. He typically sees it happen two or three times a year.

Gators usually end up in the ocean after taking a detour through an inland drain pipe or by way of the marshes, but don’t like the sting of salt water, Cavender has previously said.

Last year’s historic flooding brought in more calls than Cavender has seen in previous years and after Hurricane Matthew stirred the waters just before hibernation season, more displaced animals are bound to be an issue again, he said.

Beachgoers should call law enforcement if they see one, but shouldn’t be overly alarmed, he said.

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Nancy Thompson was walking her dog on the beach around 7 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2016, when she saw an alligator emerge from the Atlantic Ocean in Myrtle Beach.

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend

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