A 8-foot crocodile was spotted Monday morning on Hollywood Beach, sending tourists into a frenzy and law enforcement into an effort to capture the creature.
Hollywood Police say the American Crocodile was first spotted around 8:30 a.m. near the Dania Beach pier.
For hundreds of tourists and beach goers, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
"I was shocked, like wow. You see sharks on the beach, not crocodiles!" said Alyssa Shea and her mother, Kelly Shea.
“I think it's a pretty rare sight," said Ron Longo, who lives in a winter home near the beach.
American crocodiles are native to South Florida but are seen in the Florida Keys and the Everglades, not as far north as Hollywood Beach. Hollywood Police figured the crocodile wandered from a nearby canal and onto the beach.
“Most of the waterways in the city do connect in somehow, shape or form to the ocean so he might have made his way through there," said Officer Christian Lata. "Myself, I'm from California. I've never seen something like this."
Pat Kane, a wildlife enthusiast who travels to the Everglades often to see alligators and crocodiles, said it was his first time ever seeing on on a popular tourist beach full of people.
“It is South Florida. There is plenty of wildlife out here," he said. "The crocodiles are much more aggressive. And they get larger."
As a crowd of the curious and surprised looked on, FWC agents battled the rough surf and used catch poles to try and capture the croc.
The creature proved to be too slippery as he continued to slip away and swim southward downstream. A crowd of at least 100 tourists also followed the agents as they tracked the animal down the beach so Hollywood Police used ATVs and personnel to keep people back.
Wildlife agents followed the crocodile three miles down the beach from where it was originally found before finally capturing it around 1:30 p.m.
"They kind of wore him out though, he kinda gave up at the end. I wouldn't call it a capture, as much as a surrender," joked Kane.
Police say this is a reminder that South Florida filled with wild animals.
"Be aware of your surroundings. And just remember we're guests in their home," said Officer Rata.
FWC agents say they will release the crocodile him back into the wild further west from Hollywood in its own habitat.
— City of Hollywood,FL (@cohgov) November 20, 2017