Alligators are looking for a place to call home for the winter, and that includes the 11-foot behemoth seen out for a stroll Wednesday on Fripp Island.
Naturalist Jessica Miller, recreation director at Fripp Island Golf and Beach Resort, shared video on Facebook of King Arthur, as the alligator is known, crossing Ocean Creek Boulevard — no, he didn’t use the crosswalk — and gliding into a pond on the Ocean Creek Golf Course.
The video clearly shows a satellite transmitter on the back of King Arthur’s neck. The gator was tagged by Clemson University researchers in April, Miller said.
The researchers also are tracking six alligators in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island.
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The researchers told The Island Packet in the spring that the study aims to help people better understand the reptiles so they can better manage communities where alligators live.
When the researchers fitted King Arthur with the GPS device, he was measured at just under 11 feet, Miller said in the caption that accompanied her video.
“At this size, he is at least 35 years old and has likely lived on Fripp his whole life,” Miller posted.
The video had been viewed at least 19,000 times and had almost 125 comments, many from people who had seen the massive gator before or who hoped to see him.
“He reigns over Fripp,” one person posted.
“I will have nightmares tonight!” responded another.
”Dang! That guy is huge! That is right beside my house! You can see our house in the reflection on the pond,” wrote one person.
When the days get shorter, alligators know to start preparing for winter, Andrew Grosse, alligator program biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, told The Island Packet last December.
Gators will more often be seen on the banks of ponds and lakes trying to soak up the sun’s warmth during autumn, Grosse told the newspaper.
“When it starts to feel more like fall ... they slow down with their feeding or stop altogether and kind of prepare for winter,” he said. “Their primary goals become warming up when they can, finding a place to spend the winter, and maybe feeding a little bit, but they start to lose interest at that point.”
Fripp Island is known as the home of a number of large alligators.
Experts, like Miller, urge residents and visitors to watch gators from a distance and never feed them.
It’s illegal to feed or harass alligators in South Carolina, according to state law. Violators could face fines or up to 30 days in jail.