Erin Smith and her family were swimming in the ocean in Ormond-by-the-Sea when they saw something out of the ordinary.

"It looked something like seaweed with a big piece of carpet on it," said Smith, who is visiting from Tallahassee. "It just looked like some big kind of mass."

Lifeguard Ryan Every saw it, too, around 11 a.m. Monday, and called for everyone to get out of the water at the Volusia County beach.

It wasn't seaweed. And it wasn't a big piece of carpet.

It was an alligator.

Gators normally live in rivers, lakes and ponds, not saltwater.

But Every said he was "100 percent sure" it was an alligator, about 7 feet in length.

The gator didn't attack anyone and left the area. It hasn't been seen since.

Lifeguards think the gator stayed in the ocean but swam north. Volusia Beach Safety and Ocean Rescue called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC officials will be on standby in case the gator pops up again.

Greg Workman, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said gators can actually survive in the ocean for quite some time. Workman admitted that bathers and gators are a bad mix.

"I kept waiting to look for a fin or the lighter grey color, but I could just see the wave wash," Smith said. "You know, my husband was saying the seaweed kind of just rolls with the waves. It wasn't doing that. You could just see this dark object."

Workman said they are waiting for officials to report if the gator resurfaces. If it does, FWC will trap it.