A Central Florida spring has been closed to the public after a swimmer was bitten by an “aggressive” alligator, officials said.
The attack occurred shortly after noon Monday at the Alexander Springs Recreation Area on the Ocala National Forest, just north of Orlando, according to a U.S. Forest Service news release.
A man was snorkeling within the designated swim area of the spring, where he reported being bitten by an adult alligator, officials said. The victim suffered puncture wounds and lacerations.
Workers at the park rendered first aid and closed the swimming area, officials said. The man sought medical care on his own.
A 7 1/2 foot alligator believed to be the one that was involved was removed from the swim area, which is expected to reopen in the near future, officials said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission managed the alligator’s removal and will investigate the attack.
The Forest Service said Alexander Springs “was briefly closed earlier this month for the removal of a different alligator,” but there haven’t been any other incidents there involving the public.
Chad Weber, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG-TV, “Every body of water has a potential to have an alligator, especially the springs. I mean, that’s kind of a misconception that just because the water’s cooler, they won’t be in there.”
The commission noted to the station that alligators tend to be more active during the summer months and that could have been a factor behind the attack.
“We encourage people not to swim during early morning hours or late at night when there’s, you know, where alligators are more active,” Weber said. “And obviously, if you encounter an alligator in the wild, we strongly discourage people to approach them.”