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Bear joins Florida beachgoers for a summer splash

Posted at 10:09 AM, Jun 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-12 10:09:49-04

(CNN) — Three words a crowd of Florida beachgoers didn’t expect to hear during their Sunday in the sun: “It’s a bear!”

A bear was spotted splashing through the Gulf of Mexico before running up the shore at Destin, a coastal city in northwestern Florida’s Panhandle region, just before noon local time on June 11.

“We had been watching him several minutes come in from out pretty far,“ beachgoer Chris Barron told CNN. “Most people didn’t realize it was a bear.”

Barron took out his phone and started recording as multiple people were walking through the ocean.

One man was just a few feet away from the bear as it started to swim up and shake the water off its fur.

In the video, a child is heard shouting the alert as the bear runs towards the sand.

“The crowd was in shock,” Barron said.

Florida resident Steffani Saddler was on a boat returning from scuba diving when she too spotted the unfamiliar figure in the water.

“We couldn’t tell what it was so we turned the boat to get closer and that’s when we realized it was a bear,” Saddler told CNN.

The bear is seen floating in the water, slowly drifting to the shore covered in blue umbrellas as people enjoy a day at the beach.

“I guess he’s on vacation too,” Saddler joked. She said the bear safely made it to the shore and then ran off.

“I’ve lived here my whole live and have never seen anything like that before,“ she told CNN.

It’s unclear at this time where the bear came from or its current location. CNN has contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for comment.