7-foot gator surprises beachgoers on Florida’s Anna Maria Island

Alligators prefer freshwater like lakes and rivers, but Florida wildlife experts say they “can swim in and tolerate saltwater” for shorter periods.
Holly Newman from Maryland took video of an alligator seen near the Rod and Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island.
Holly Newman from Maryland took video of an alligator seen near the Rod and Reel Pier on Anna Maria Island. [ BY HOLLY NEWMAN, FACEBOOK, VIA BRADENTON HERALD ]
Published Oct. 11, 2022|Updated Oct. 11, 2022

A distressed alligator wandered onto the beach on Anna Maria Island on Saturday, surprising many beachgoers who were enjoying the sunny day.

Related: Gators take dips in backyards pools in Temple Terrace, Palm Harbor

The gator came ashore along the rocky shore on the northern tip of the island — between Bean Point and the Rod and Reel Pier. Several reports were made to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and a trapper was contracted and sent out to catch the alligator.

The trapper removed the 7-foot-9-inch-long alligator and realized that its leg was injured.

The gator was later euthanized.

“While the American alligator prefers freshwater lakes and slow-moving rivers and their associated wetlands, they are seen in brackish water habitats occasionally,” wildlife commission spokesperson Tammy Sapp said. “Alligators can swim in and tolerate saltwater for short period of time, but it is not their preferred habitat.”

Many took to social media to share their beach encounter.

“My morning walk in the north shore was so exciting… a lost Gator from the storm washed up in Anna Maria,” Anabelle Mistral posted on Facebook.

“Displaced by hurricane Ian this Gator just found on our beautiful white sandy beaches of Bean Point on Anna Maria Island,” Barbi Harris-Wilt wrote on her Facebook page.

But the wildlife commission would not speculate where the alligator may have come from or if its condition had anything to do with Hurricane Ian.

The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program contracts nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators believed to pose a threat to people, pets or property.

Related: How to stay safe and avoid alligator attacks in Florida

People with concerns about an alligator should call the wildlife commission’s toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286) and a contracted nuisance alligator trapper will get dispatched to remove the gator.