Residents wonder if alligator is latest victim of red tide

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An alligator found dead alongside hundreds of dead crabs off Don Pedro Island has residents wondering if it's the latest victim of red tide. 

RELATED: Red tide coverage from FOX 13

Jack Foard and his wife Desiré's beach visits have more or less turned into a documentary of devastation. 

"This is the only gar we've seen and they are tough fish," he said. 

The area they love normally flourishes, but lately Don Pedro Island near Engelwood has felt the blow of red tide. They've found rare dead turtles, tarpon, and the latest has them puzzled. 

"Yesterday it was the day of the crabs. All the crabs were being killed as I looked into the surf, there were still live ones that weak kind of waiting their turn to be swept up on shore and the alligator was right in the middle of all of that," said Jack Foard. 

The gator appears to be young, measuring no more than four-feet-long. 

"I knew that was very strange...You look around at the evidence and you see all of these dead animals," said Jack. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told FOX 13 on Friday the dead gator is an anomaly.  An FWC officer initially told FOX 13 they were not testing the gator for red tide toxins, but a few days later said they removed the alligator from the beach and were doing further testing to try and determine the cause of death. 

The results would not be available immediately, said FWC.

While it's uncommon to see an alligator at the beach, it's been known to happen in Florida. Alligators can survive in saltwater for a few hours or days, but they live primarily in fresh water.

Red tide has continued to plague Florida's Gulf coastline, killing dolphins, manatees, and tons of fish, which have washed up along the shore. 

Longboat Key is currently closed to swimmers due to the high levels of enterococci bacteria, of which one of the causes is the dead and decaying fish in the water. 

No one knows how much longer this red tide will last as it continues to take a bleak toll on life both in the water and out. 

"The last two or three months. It's just been like every time we go there is something new," said Desiré Foard. "It's really depressing. We are sad for the big picture of the environment and what they seems to spell for the future," said Desiré. 

The FWC is asking residents to report fish kills to its Fish Kill Hotline at 800-363-0511. Anyone who spots a ded, sick, or injured manatee or sea turtle should contact the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-402-3922.