By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI (Reuters) – A Miami man remained hospitalized in serious condition after a crocodile for the first time in Florida history attacked a pair of late-night swimmers near an upscale suburb, a wildlife official said on Monday.
Lisset Rendon, 23, was bitten in her left shoulder before she could struggle out of the crocodile’s jaws, after she and Alejandro Jimenez, 26, jumped into a canal, Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“They started swimming and apparently at some point they came face-to-face with a nine-foot crocodile,” Pino said.
After Rendon was attacked, Jimenez was bitten in the hands and torso as he scrambled toward safety at a nearby dock early Sunday morning, Pino said.
Though Florida is well known for incidents involving its large alligator population, American crocodiles number less than 2,000 and live mostly in the southeastern region near the Everglades.
The large reptiles are shy and reclusive, Pino said, and feed mostly between the hours of dusk and dawn. Another couple in an unconfirmed 2011 attack claimed a crocodile flipped their kayak as they paddled through the Florida Keys.
Crocodiles live mostly in saltwater, but can survive in the brackish waters found in Florida when the ocean meets groundwater in a web of canals and waterways.
The canal where Rendon and Jimenez went swimming is a known crocodile habitat, and wildlife officials spent the day warning residents about the dangers of wading into unfamiliar waters.
“We certainly do not recommend you go swimming during their peak feeding hours,” Pino said.
(Editing by David Adams and Leslie Adler)