PINOPOLIS, SC (WCSC) - Eddie Monroe has a routine. Every morning he walks around the outskirts of Somerset Point a park for Santee Cooper retirees and workers in Pinopolis on Lake Moultrie. As groundskeeper, Monroe looks for trash and makes sure the park's campers are comfortable. But on Tuesday he found the one thing he never expected to find.
"I noticed this huge gator right here," said Monroe, pointing next to the park's floating dock.
Huge may by the understatement of the year.
The alligator Monroe found measured 12 feet long and weighted 800 pounds.
After the groundskeeper realized it was dead, he got on the phone. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and gator experts showed up to find out just how the massive gator died.
Ron Russell, of Gator Getter Consultants, was one of the experts called out to size up the monster.
Russell said "by the look of the gator, I'd say it was between 50 and 60 years old when it died." Healthy alligators can live 70 years or older.
Russell said it was strange to find the gator died washed up on shore the way it was found. Because of the circumstances, the gator was checked for bullet holes and stab wounds but the crews didn't find any.
Monroe watched in awe while the experts looked over the beast.
"I would say he was probably as wide as a small cow," said Monroe. "His stomach was large enough that he could have swallowed the two of us that unloaded him from the water without his stomach bulging."
To put the size of the male gator in perspective, DNR's wildlife division says 472 gators were killed during open hunting season last year.
Jay Butfiloski, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division manager, says of those 472 alligators killed only 36 were above 12 feet long.
Which means the Lake Moultrie monster is in the top 13% of it's class of giant South Carolina gators.
After finding the massive gator, Monroe says his routine won't change but he'll add massive reptiles to the list of things to keep his eyes peeled for.
"I don't think I've even seen one that size in person," said Monroe. "It was pretty big. I won't forget it."
The reptile was buried in a big hole not far from where it washed up on Santee Cooper property.