Gator spotted, captured on beach in Galveston

A viewer sent us this photo of a Gator they said was found on Galveston Beach Sunday.
May 29, 2013 7:37:35 AM PDT
It's video that's captivating -- a gator being caught on Galveston Island. But the big question everyone's asking is why was the animal there?

The gator had swimmers and sunbathers scrambling to get away. Others were watching it cautiously.

The reptile turned up on Bermuda Beach Sunday and was later captured and released.

It was a normal holiday weekend for Vanessa Chapelle and her husband on Galveston Island, when someone on Bermuda Beach shouted alligator.

"We stayed just one night and actually we were at the beach on Sunday," Chapelle said. "On my right side, I could see a lot of people getting out from the water."

At first, Chapelle didn't believe it. Then...

"I feel something moving like I really saw a leg, part of a tail and then I realized this is like a crocodile," Chapelle said.

It was a 4- to 5-foot-long alligator, and Chapelle took video and pictures of it.

Someone called 911, and soon, law enforcement and game wardens were there rounding up the reptile. Beach patrol says the animal was released somewhere on the mainland.

But an alligator in the Gulf is not as uncommon as you might think.

"Typically, I find them on the Bolivar Peninsula washed ashore over there. Most of the time they are alive; usually, they're under six feet in length," biologist Lindsey Howell said.

Howell researches sea turtle nests and says she comes across alligators washed out by the rivers or perhaps looking to get rid of parasites, before they end up on the beach.

"They're sunning themselves, they're trying to warm up. That, or they're injured or ill and they're looking for where they came from, back for their fresh water," she said.

And despite the momentary scare, Chapelle says she'll be back on the beach soon.

"We love to go to Galveston with my husband and we are continuing to keep going," Chapelle said.

Howell says the alligators are normally not a threat if they are left alone. People who encounter one should call the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or just let them go on their way.

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