Padre Island National Seashore says alligator found at park had ‘long journey’ from Louisiana

The alligator was sent to a rehabilitation center

A young American alligator was found on the Padre Island National Seashore on Monday, May 24, 2021. NPS Photo
A young American alligator was found on the Padre Island National Seashore on Monday, May 24, 2021. NPS Photo (Courtesy, National Park Service)

A toothy discovery was made along the Padre Island National Seashore this week.

PINS park rangers posted an image of a young American alligator that was found Monday on Malaquite Beach, directly in front of the Malaquite Visitor Center.

Kelly Taylor, the chief of interpretation and education at PINS, said two park rangers were able to capture and secure the alligator. It was sent to the Corpus Christi Texas Sea Life Center for rehabilitation from its “long journey” from Louisiana.

It was given a radiograph when it arrived at the center, and it came back clean, Taylor said. It did have fishing line in its mouth, and it is currently receiving intravenous fluids.

She added that it is unknown when or where the animal will be released.

The “unusual visitor” traveled from the bayou, according to a tail notch and tags found on its feet, PINS officials say.

“We can only speculate that since it was tagged in Louisiana that perhaps it got washed out into the Gulf during one of the flooding events that recently occurred in the state,” Taylor said. “It had a lot of algae on its back, so we suspect that it might have been in the Gulf for a while.”

She said when the alligators bask in the sun to regulate their body temperatures, the rays kill off the algae.

Yesterday we had an unusual visitor on Malaquite Beach! This young American alligator came all the way from Louisiana,...

Posted by Padre Island National Seashore on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The national seashore, which is known as the longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island in the world, is known as a nesting ground for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

Common wildlife at the park includes coyotes, deer, songbirds, squirrels, jellyfish and ghost crabs, but PINS typically posts about funky creatures, such as blue dragons or cannibalistic fish, that wash up.

Taylor said American alligators extend to South Texas, but they are uncommon at the national seashore.

“Alligators are a freshwater species; while they can tolerate brackish (a mix of fresh and salt) water for short periods of time, they typically avoid salt water,” she said. “Since Padre Island National Seashore is surrounded by saltwater and because the freshwater flooding of the coastal prairies from rain is seasonal, the habitat is not preferred by alligators.”

Just up the coast last fall, a 10-foot male alligator was found near businesses in Port Aransas.

It was dubbed the “Dollar Store Gator” by residents who were feeding him. It was relocated to Beaumont after experts said he was getting too comfortable with humans.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.