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FORT MYERS (CBSMiami) — There was an unusual sight in the water in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday.

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An alligator was spotted swimming in the salt water off Fort Myers Beach, near Lover’s Key.


Then the gator decided to go for a stroll on the beach.

Captain Jessica DeGraw, with Island Time Dolphin & Shelling Cruises Inc., says she was taking a family of five out on a cruise near Big Hickory Preserve when they spotted the gator swimming nearby.

“We anchored and some friends of mine on the beach came up and said there’s a gator! So we got off and started walking and sure enough there was a gator swimming in the water,” said DeGraw.

The alligator was about 4 to 5 feet long, she said.

“I told them if he comes up on shore we want to step back so we kept kind of just inching back as he stepped on the beach and I said if he comes up here he can run faster than we can!”

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First, she said, the gator was swimming, and then he came up on shore and was sunning himself.

The animal eventually walked to the other side of the island towards the lagoon.

Marine life experts say although it is rare, it is not uncommon to see alligators in the Gulf.

Big Hickory Island backs up to the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve where fresh water meets salt water, and with recent Lake Okeechobee discharges, the water is a bit more fresh than usual.

DeGraw has operated her business for five years and she said she has not seen alligators during her tours.

“He could’ve gotten lost and wandered into that area,” she said.

It is a rare sight she is glad she was able to see.

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“It was a little scary, but a little exciting at the same time.”