DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA - JULY 09: An alligator navigates the waterway at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands on July 09, 2021 in Delray Beach, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When you’re at the beach it’s not rare to spot wildlife. After all, you’re in their natural habitat. But it can still be shocking to spot certain wildlife especially sharks or alligators. But that’s just what happened Sunday for some beachgoers. Visitors spotted a 12-foot long alligator in the waves at Oak Island near the Ocean Crest Pier on Sunday. The Town of Oak Island communications director Mike Emory told WRAL  that it’s not uncommon to see alligators and they aren’t usually an issue. The alligator spotted in Oak Island didn’t harm anyone just enjoyed a swim in the surf. While alligators are freshwater animals they can survive in saltwater for short periods of time, up to a few days. Gators don’t typically pose a direct threat to humans. The danger comes when people try to feed the animals.  Alligators are afraid of humans but will perceive them as a meal when food is involved. The majority of alligator attacks on humans are due to people attempting to capture, approach, or feed the animals.

Officials with the Oak Island Water Rescue hope the gator, which was spotted underneath the pier, will deter kids from jumping off the pier, which is prohibited but has been happening lately. In a Facebook post, they wrote “Look at the cute alligator that was seen under one of our piers today. If the idea of paralysis and death by drowning isn’t enough to deter pier jumping, perhaps the thought of becoming an alligator snack might be.”

What should you do if you come across an alligator?

  • You should attempt to stay the length of a school bus away from a small alligator and twice that for adult alligators
  • Keep your pets on a leash, and away from water where alligators have been spotted
  • Don’t leave young children unattended near bodies of water
  • Be careful around water during dusk and dawn as this is when alligators are most active
  • Don’t approach an alligator