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      Fishermen find alligator 19 miles off coast during fishing trip

      By Gregory Woodsgwoods@abcnews4.com

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Close to 19 miles off Charleston's coast, a pair of deep sea fishermen ran across something unexpected on Monday -- an alligator.

      Rob Bennett and Stephen Fields have chartered boats for decades. Bennett owns Inshore Charters; and Fields is the owner of Fields Fishing Charters.

      They say Monday they decided to take the day off and go fishing, and that's when they saw something strange in the water.

      "Stephen noticed this object in the distance, and I said, 'Well gosh, that's a big sea turtle,'" said Bennett.

      They quickly found out it wasn't a sea turtle; it was a 10-foot alligator swimming nearly 19 miles off the coast.

      "We couldn't believe it. I've been chartering now for 30 years and I've seen alligators crossing the river, but I'd never seen anything like this before -- especially that far out," said Bennett.

      "Capt. Rob put the boat in reverse and I walked up to the front of the boat, and the alligator was about five feet off the front of it. And it wasn't very active or anything so I took the opportunity to take my GoPro out and get some shots," said Fields.

      Bennett and Fields believe the alligator was the same gator that washed up on the Folly Beach shore Wednesday where a nuisance animal expert put it down in front of a crowd of amazed onlookers.

      "What an incredible will to live," said Bennett. "To swim 20 miles to the beach, that was an incredible thing for that gator."

      Fields says finding a gator in the middle of the ocean is something he'll never forget.

      "I mean, we were simply going out to catch some Cobia but instead we ended up finding a huge alligator. Either way it was a good day," said Fields.

      No one has confirmed Fields and Bennett's hunch that the gator they caught in the middle of the ocean is the same one shot on Folly Beach.

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