Memorial Day weekend offered species of all kinds an opportunity to take a leisurely swim and bask in the sun, as several unsuspecting swimmers at a Houston area state park discovered.
Visitors at Huntsville State Park reported seeing as many as two alligators that weekend. One alligator seemed to even lurk around the swimming section of the lake, causing great panic and chaos both in the water and onshore.
Startling footage captured the moment swimmers were forced to hastily seek refuge on a nearby platform in the middle of the lake.
The footage reveals approximately 20 individuals, including young children, anxiously huddled together on a platform positioned in the center of the lake.
A few people can be seen in the water trying to splash the alligator in what may have been an attempt to scare it off or divert its attention. A few rocks were also thrown.
More footage shows that park rangers eventually came out on a boat to rescue the swimmers trapped on the pier.
The American alligator can grow up to 14 feet long, Texas Parks and Wildlife stated. While once considered an endangered species, their numbers have grown, and they can now be hunted by special permit holders.
Some states even allow alligators to be kept as pets, but as one woman recently learned, Texas isn’t one of them, at least not without a permit.
As The Dallas Express covered, in March a woman in Buda was reported by her neighbor for a pet alligator that she raised after allegedly stealing an alligator egg from the local zoo.
While alligators might become vocal and hiss when they feel threatened, they typically leave humans alone. But smaller animals are likely to fall prey to these fast-moving reptiles.
Several commenters on the Huntsville alligator footage noted that it should have been no surprise to swimmers that alligators were in the lake.
“I grew up in Huntsville. They have signs everywhere warning people of alligators. I once waited on the pier til they swam off,” said one individual, according to the Houston Chronicle.
They also provide several alligator safety tips, namely to refrain from feeding or harassing them and to maintain a distance of at least 30 feet.
Alligators that approach people or follow them onto land — nuisance alligators — are almost always created by visitors feeding them, park officials explained. They often end up relocated or euthanized.
Several useful (and humorous) wildlife etiquette and tips for visiting national or state parks this summer can be found here.