The Padre Island Turtle Patrol found the alligator dehydrated, underweight, and in critical condition after the animal made its way from Louisiana to south Texas under unconfirmed circumstances

By Eric Todisco
May 31, 2021 03:58 PM
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beach alligator
Credit: K. Rogers/National Parks Service

A young male American alligator who used to call Louisiana home somehow traveled over 400 miles to a beach in south Texas, where officials discovered it last Monday.

According to social media posts from the National Park Service and the Texas Sealife Center — which featured snapshots of the alligator on the Texas beach after its long, mysterious journey and then while being treated by professionals — Padre Island's Turtle Patrol discovered the wayward reptile on May 24 on Malaquite Beach.

According to officials, rescuers found the gator dehydrated, underweight, and in critical condition. The turtle patrol — which normally helps protect Padre Island's sea turtle hatchlings — took the animal to the Texas Sealife Center for medical care and rehabilitation.

Officials also checked the alligator's tail notch and tags and determined that the reptile came from Louisiana. Officials then consulted with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife and learned that the alligator was released six weeks ago in Louisiana as part of a research project in Vermilion Parish, the Texas Sealife Center shared on Facebook.

"We suspect that due to the heavy rains over the last few weeks this may have contributed to his long trek to the South Texas coastline," the center said of the alligator in its post.

Kelly Taylor, the Padre Island National Seashore's public information officer, told CNN that given the "significant amount of algae" on the alligator's back, the animal was likely "floating in the Gulf for a while."

The Texas Sealife Center said that the alligator's status "has been upgraded to good" after several days of treatment. The gator is expected to remain at the rehab center until he is considered healthy enough to be released.

The rehabilitation professionals will work with park officials to determine the best release location for the alligator once the time comes, the center said.

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The true nature of the alligator's journey from Louisiana to Texas remains a mystery, especially considering that alligators are considered freshwater reptiles and can only tolerate salt water for up to a few days at most, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Typically, alligators reside in swampy areas, rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds, the NOAA added.