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Alligator swims up on Padre Island beach

A young American alligator rests along the sandy shore on Malaquite Beach at Padre Island National Seashore. In the background, a Turtle Patrol UTV drives along the beach. Photo courtesy of NPS/K. Rogers

Louisiana alligator makes his way by sea to Corpus Christi

Alligators are not known as sea creatures, but one showed up on shore at Malaquite Beach at Padre Island National Seashore on Monday, May 25. No one yet knows how he got there, but tail notch and tags on its rear feet indicate home is somewhere in Louisiana.

The gator was discovered by National Park Service rangers on turtle patrol. They took it to the Texas Sealife Center in Corpus Christi, but not before taking a photo and posting it on the national seashore’s Facebook page. The gator was transported in a large dog crate.

Updates on the creature's health are expected sometime Friday, May 28, on the Texas Sealife Center’s Facebook page.

Home would normally be freshwater for any American alligator, which can tolerate saltwater but only for a few hours or, at most, a few days.

Hungry gators are known to venture into salty waters for food, according to Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Kansas State University. They especially like crabs and sea turtles. They also eat at least three species of shark and two species of stingrays.

When alligators venture into saltwater for lunch or dinner, they shut their nostrils and close off their throat with a cartilage-based shield. While eating in saltwater, they tip their heads up to drain the water out of their mouths before opening their throat and swallowing.

According to a study by the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, alligators regularly travel between freshwater and saltwater for food.

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