A swim near Coligny Beach seemed to be the right way to beat the heat for an alligator on Hilton Head Island.
The 3-foot-long gator was spotted in the surf around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Shore Beach Services officials.
The beach service notified Critter Management Inc., which assisted lifeguards in removing the gator.
It was the first time this year an alligator had to be removed from the beach, but it usually happens a couple of times a year, according to Ralph Wagner, director of Shore Beach Services.
Longtime island resident Lisa Silvan said she walks the beach nearly every morning, but she had never seen an alligator there before Tuesday.
The reptile walked very close along the tide line and seemed frightened of the crowd that gathered, Silvan said.
The alligator was "just a little itty-bitty guy," she said.
It hardly compared to the nine-footer that appeared at the beach three years ago. Crews on jet skis had to force that one closer to the shore so Critter Management staff could secure it.
Billy Karijanian, director of operations at Critter Management, said most alligators spotted at the beach are likely "out for a stroll" at night and get caught at sunup, "so they just go to the closest body of water (for shelter)."
Gators might also go to the salt water to help treat lesions, Karijanian said.