The gator, estimated to be 8 to 10 feet long, was caught about 2:30 p.m. Friday and relocated to the Savannah River, Tybee Island Fire Chief Ashely Fields said.
The gator was spotted early Friday morning in the water off the beaches on the south end of Tybee Island. Fields said the gator stayed about 20 to 30 feet away from the beach. All beaches were then closed but have now been reopened.
An alligator swimming in the ocean off Tybee Island “is a very rare occurrence,” Fields said, adding that he’s talked to people who have been around the island for 30 to 40 years who had never seen one off Tybee’s beach.
There are an estimated 200,000 alligators in Georgia, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. They’re typically found south of what’s known as the “fall line” — a line that connects the cities of Columbus, Macon and Augusta.
Tybee Island, once known as Savannah Beach, is a popular tourist destination for people from across the nation. With about 3,000 full-time residents, its population swells to several times that number during weekends in the summer season, Buelterman said.
Authorities closed some beaches along the Georgia coast as a precaution after the large alligator was spotted near Savannah.
The alligator was caught on the south side of Tybee Island Beach, Fire Chief Ashley Fields said.