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Gator spotted floating in ocean off Florida

Posted: July 9, 2014 - 2:34pm  |  Updated: July 9, 2014 - 6:08pm
**FILE** A 9-foot, 4-inch alligator bares his teeth as he is captured Monday, May 15, 2006, in a lake behind some homes in North Miami Beach, Fla. About 7,000 gators are killed annually in Florida under the state's policy that deems an alligator a nuisance if it is 4 feet or larger and is a perceived threat to people, pets or property. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
**FILE** A 9-foot, 4-inch alligator bares his teeth as he is captured Monday, May 15, 2006, in a lake behind some homes in North Miami Beach, Fla. About 7,000 gators are killed annually in Florida under the state's policy that deems an alligator a nuisance if it is 4 feet or larger and is a perceived threat to people, pets or property. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

ORMOND-BY-THE-SEA | An alligator floating in the Atlantic Ocean sent swimmers scrambling off Ormond-By-the Sea near Daytona Beach.

Erin Smith of Tallahassee told The Daytona Beach News-Journal she first thought a piece of carpet was floating nearby as she and her family waded in the ocean on Monday morning

But soon a man farther out on the sandbar let them know it was an alligator and everyone headed for the beach. As lifeguards got everyone out of the water, the gator vanished under the water.

Wildlife officials say alligators prefer fresh water, but can tolerate salt water for a few hours, or even a few days.

The newspaper says two small gators were sighted on nearby beaches in Daytona Beach Shore and Ormond Beach. Swimmers eventually returned to the surf.

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