One of the many perks to the beach and coastal region is our beautiful natural habitats and animals that reside in them. Alligators are indigenous to the Myrtle Beach area, and they typically live in our freshwater marshes and rivers, away from people. But, every so often, it is possible that an alligator might make its way to the ocean.
We recently met with Mike Walker, Interpretive Ranger at Huntington Beach State Park, to discuss the reasons why alligators can make their way into the ocean. First, many alligators that end up in the ocean have been kicked out by a more dominant male alligator in their natural habitat, and they are migrating to another, more friendly environment.
Another reason why an alligator might take a swim in the ocean is that it is seeking another body of freshwater because drought conditions this year have dried up some freshwater ponds. An alligator seeking a new water source may make a quick stop into ocean water to regulate its body temperature temporarily. Remember that alligators can only tolerate saltwater for a few hours.
In the extremely rare occasion that you encounter an alligator at the beach or anywhere else, do not approach the alligator, just admire it from a distance. Most alligators don’t want anything to do with humans, however, they can become defensive if provoked (but don’t we all!).
Below is a list of organizations that can help remove an alligator safely and take it back to a freshwater location.
Huntington Beach State Park, located in Murrells Inlet, is a great place to learn more about nature and wildlife while visiting the Grand Strand. They offer several programs on all types of wildlife throughout the summer including crabs, alligators, turtles and birds that will truly immerse you in the beauty of our coastline. For more information, visit their website.