DESTIN, Fla. – With temperatures rising in Florida, a trip to the beach is a natural way to cool off.
At least one bear feels the same way.
Visitors to the beach Sunday on Florida’s Panhandle saw a young black bear paddling in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and heading to shore of the beach in Destin, WMBB-TV reported.
Frank Merrell recorded a video of the bear, which was swimming near the Silver Dunes Condominium, according to the television station. So did Jennifer Majors Smith, who posted videos to her Facebook page.
Beachgoers are accustomed to seeing seagulls, dolphins and even sharks in the water. But a bear?
Apparently, it is not unusual.
“It’s not uncommon,” Chris Kirby, a charter boat captain for Charter Boat Backlash in Destin, told AL.com. “There are a lot of bears at Eglin Air Force Base. They swim across the bay. Sometimes they go for a joy swim.”
Sunday, just after noon CDT, the bear was having a joyful time in the water.
The animal ran past beach umbrellas and chairs as startled onlookers watched.
Smith, who is from Pensacola, said she was surprised.
“Never have I ever … seen a black bear swim up out of the Gulf Coast and onto the beach (and I’m from Pensacola),” Smith wrote.
The bear navigated the surf and hit the beach before running away, apparently startled by the crowd of onlookers who gathered to watch — from a distance.
Merrell told WMBB that the bear was unharmed as it fled to safety.
“At first no one on shore could tell what it was in the ocean,” Smith, who is vacationing from Nashville, told AL.com. “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. Of course, my animal-loving son started following it, so my mother-in-law grabbed him. We were all shocked by and amazed to see what we saw. We were all glad to see him safe from the water. We all enjoy a dip in the water, but who knows how long he was in there.”
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