ABOVE: Alexander Springs Recreation Area. (Adventure Ocala / USDA Forest Service photo)
In response to an aggressive alligator incident yesterday, National Forests in Florida (NFF) has temporarily closed the Alexander Springs swim area.
At approximately 12:30 p.m. yesterday, a man was snorkeling within the springs’ designated swim area, where he reported being bitten by an adult alligator. The victim suffered puncture wounds and lacerations. A nearby concessioner responded quickly and rendered aid to the victim, clearing all guests from the swim area, and closing it for public safety. The victim chose to transport himself to seek medical care. The 7 ½ foot-long alligator believed to be involved in the incident was removed this afternoon and the swim area is expected to reopen in the near future.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is investigating the incident. and USFS will reopen the Alexander Springs swim area once FWC completes its investigation of the area and recommends next steps for public safety.
Alexander Springs Recreation Area had just reopened four days ago after Florida wildlife officials safely captured and removed a nuisance alligator from the area. No prior alligator incidents this year in the Ocala National Forest involved any injuries to the public. The USFS and FWC will continue to monitor conditions and remove alligators as necessary.
July is alligator nesting season in Florida and alligator mothers are very alert and protective of their eggs and young. All reptiles are more active and need to eat more during this hot season. Visitors should use caution in and around water (including on the shoreline) and follow all posted and prescribed safety guidance. Alligators are masters of camouflage, blending seamlessly into their natural environment. They are not easily detected underwater, no matter how clear the water may appear, and are very territorial, particularly during this time of year.
Only 27 first-magnitude springs exist in Florida, and Alexander Springs is a broad and gently sloped spring pool that is a 300-foot-wide. This extraordinarily clear, freshwater spring gushes approximately 70 million gallons of water daily that maintains a refreshing 72-degree temperature.