ISLE OF PALMS — The gator, frankly, looked a little beleaguered.
It crawled halfway out of the surf Monday morning on the beach at Isle of Palms and began slogging its way in the wash toward the pier as early beachgoers gaped.
The 4-footer “was a little disoriented,” said Isle of Palms animal control officer John Keelan.
Go figure. All it likely wanted was a little brackish water, something to get the parasites off.
Alligators “get blown out in the tide, caught in the current and wash on down the beach until they can climb out,” said Ron Russell of Gator Getter Consultants, an alligator removal contractor. “They wear themselves out in the surf.”
The gator came ashore about 10 a.m. just north of the pier, near the Charleston County park in an area popular with beachgoers.
It drew a crowd.
“It’s not every day you see an alligator on the beach,” Keelan said.
But the appearance wasn’t all that rare. Gators turn up once or twice a year on the Isle of Palms beach.
Last year, a gator twice that size washed up.
More than 100,000 alligators live in coastal waters in the state, including freshwater on barrier islands.
If you’re talking rarities, that would be the wayward, 6-foot crocodile Russell pulled out of the Isle of Palms surf in 2008 — a few hundred miles from its home range in the swamps of South Florida.
On Monday, Keelan used a snag pole to herd the gator onto the dry sand, then kept it there until one of Russell’s crew arrived. The two men snared the gator and taped its mouth, and Gator Getters carried it away.
No one was hurt, except unfortunately the reptile. State law requires that removed alligators be euthanized.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.