3-foot gator pulled from surf at Jacksonville Beach

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – It was a rare sight for beachgoers, who watched as an alligator was pulled from the surf Saturday in Jacksonville Beach.

According to Capt. Max Ervanian, with Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue, the 3-foot gator was found in the water near 5th Avenue South.

Nathan Bowcock, a lifeguard who first saw the gator, described what it was like getting it back to the shoreline.

"I didn't want him to take my fingers off, so I was being pretty cautious," Bowcock said. "They don’t like salt water. It was looking pretty lethargic. I grabbed him the first time and he shook a little bit. So we waited for animal control and went back out there with a net.”

Bowcock said he had never seen a gator in the surf until beachgoers reported an unidentified marine life in the water. It turned out to be an alligator, something Jacksonville beachgoers aren't accustomed to seeing.

"It kind of scared me and makes me not want to go swimming that much," said Adrielle Plesancia, a beachgoer.

Bowcock says the gator appeared to be sick, but he still took precautions.

Ervanian said Ocean Rescue contacted the Jacksonville Beach Police Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for assistance.

The FWC took possession of the gator. A viewer shared this video with News4Jax:

The sick gator was eventually captured and brought back to the beach where it was placed into a dog cage by a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer. Initial reports has the gator being about 3-feet long but Bowcock says it was actually the length of his arm span.

No one was injured and the gator is now in the custody of Florida Fish and Wildlife.  

About the Authors:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.