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ORMOND-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. (AP) - 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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