Coral Gables authorities Monday were combing a canal for a crocodile that attacked swimmers over the weekend. They're also handing out warnings.
Two people were bitten by the croc while swimming in a Coral Gables canal around 2 a.m. Sunday, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.
Both were taken to South Miami Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries and were released Monday, Pino said. The victims were identified as Alejandro Jimenez, 26, of Doral and Lisset Rendon, 23, of Miami.
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 bit Rendon. She managed to escape and swam to the dock, according to Pino. She was bitten in the back and shoulder area.
Partygoers ran to shore and dragged her out. When 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 an hour," Pino said.
Coral Gables police responded to an animal bite at around 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 Pino's records, this is the first time an American crocodile has attacked a human in Florida.
Authorities will continue the search for the crocodile into Monday night when croc activity is at its peak. Because crocodiles are federally protected. officials will "relocate the croc to its natural habitat," which is usually at the reserve between Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
Melinda Wild, 45, was walking her two dogs, Ginger and Luna, Monday afternoon. She lives on the next block.
She said she is careful when she walks the dogs.
"I always make sure they're on a tight leash because of the signs posted everywhere," Wild said. "I'd say jumping in the canal might have been a bit reckless. But on the other hand, you always see people paddle boarding, so I don't know."
Said Pino: "This area is known to have crocodiles, but we've had one bite a human. However, we've had several reports of dogs going missing in Coral Gables."
Crocodile warning signs are posted throughout the area.
"There are signs that are clearly in the area," Pino said. "The homeowner's association is very progressive with letting people know that is a crocodile sanctuary."