A black bear has been caught on camera emerging from the ocean on a Florida beach, leaving unsuspecting beachgoers stunned.
The ‘unusual’ sighting on Sunday (11 June) had beach-going vacationers shocked on the sand.
The cub frolicked in the knee-deep waves of the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday on a Destin beach before running up the sand and away from the tourist spot.
As the bear caught some waves, an off-camera voice can be heard saying: “That’s not a dog!”
Another chips in: “I guess he’s on vacation, too!”
While rarely caught on camera, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a statement that young bears like to explore ‘unexpected areas’ at this time of year in an attempt to find food or a new home independent of their mother.
“While it is unusual to see a bear swimming in the shallows of a crowded beach, it isn’t unusual to hear of black bears swimming in the Gulf, on their way to barrier islands in search of food,” it said.
“During this time of year, juvenile bears such as the one seen in Destin are starting to leave their mother’s home range and may be seen in unexpected areas as they try to find a new home.
“Typically, these bears will move away on their own. If you see a bear, give it plenty of space, don’t try to approach it, and never feed it.”
It’s estimated that there’s a growing population of more than 4,000 black bears currently living in Florida.
“If a bear is not able to find food, it will move on,” the FWC said in its statement on Monday as it urged residents to secure morsels that can attract bears and cause them to linger.
One surprised tourist told Al.com that the sighting was the last thing they’d expected to see in a beach setting.
“A man was yelling out ‘Bear!’ You would expect ‘Shark’ or ‘Dolphin’ but not ‘Bear.’ It came out of the Gulf and look tired but relieved,” Jennifer Majors Smith, who shared some clips of the encounter on Facebook, explained.
“We were all shocked by and amazed to see what we saw. We were all glad to see him safe from the water.”
Lifelong Sunshine State resident, Captain Chris Kirby, who operates Charter Boat Backlash, said that locals are more used to seeing bears in that area.
“I’ve seen two swim in the bay. And that’s over 30 years. That’s a long time, too. They’re not uncommon, I’ve heard stories of (bears) swimming around the bay as well.”
He added: “It might have been a little curious, that’s all.”
This article by Amelia Jones was first published by Unilad on 13 June 2023. Lead Image: Chris Barron via Storyful.
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