CORAL GABLES — A South Florida man is recovering after he was bitten by a crocodile while swimming at night in a Coral Gables canal.
Authorities say 26-year-old Alejandro Jimenez was treated and released at a local hospital after suffering bites to his shoulder, arm and neck. Another victim, 23-year-old Lisset Rendon, suffered unspecified minor injuries.
The two were swimming in the canal early Sunday behind a house where a party was taking place.
Florida wildlife officials say crocodiles are frequently spotted in the canals and signs are posted warning of their presence. Police were handing out flyers in the neighborhood as reminders about the crocodiles, which authorities say rarely attack humans.
Jimenez and Rendon were swimming in a canal behind a home in the 1300 block on Lugo Avenue during a party when the croc chomped.
Both were in the water when the 8- to 9-foot croc first bit Rendon. She managed to escape its grasp and swam to the dock, according to Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. She was bitten in the back and shoulder area.
Partygoers all ran to shore and dragged her out. Then Jimenez tried swimming back to the dock. The croc bit his hands and torso.
"The bite happened right behind the residence. We don't know why these two individuals would be in a canal that's known to have crocodiles at such hour," Pino said.
Coral Gables police responded to an animal bite about 2:30 a.m., said spokeswoman Kelly Denham.
On Monday, police were going door to door, handing out guides on "living with crocodiles," Denham said.
"We need to pass this out because crocodiles were here way before these houses were built," she said.
According to Pino's records, this is the first time an American crocodile has attacked a human in Florida.
Authorities continued the search for the crocodile into Monday night, when croc activity is at its peak. Because crocodiles are federally protected, officials planned "relocate the croc to its natural habitat," which is usually at the reserve between Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.