MELBOURNE, Fla. (WFLA) – Some residents in Central Florida spotted an unusual creature in the area last week – an American crocodile.

In Melbourne Beach, some people said they saw the reptile lounging on a dock. Aaron Crichton, who saw the crocodile, described the animal as being 10 to 14 feet long, according to NBC Affiliate WESH.

“He had a pointy nose. Probably 10 to 14-foot, and he was like a light green. He was just lying there right on the dock,” Crichton told WESH.

But he wasn’t the only one who noticed the crocodile. The Melbourne Beach Police Department shared in a Facebook post that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was made aware of the croc. The police department added that the animal was actually federally protected.

The “visiting” crocodile was tagged with a telemetry unit by the FWC, making the croc just one of 12 statewide that are wearing that specific tracking unit.

MBPD stated that the FWC chose this crocodile because he’s one of the northernmost American crocodiles, and they wanted to follow where he goes in the winter.

According to the FWC, the crocodile was born in Key Largo and is 16 years old and is 8.9 feet long.

The FWC also shared that back in 2013, the croc was hit twice by cars. However, after he was struck, he was evaluated, became responsive, and was released and swam off normally the same day.

“We believe he has been in the Melbourne area for several years, but don’t have an official date as to when he first got here,” the FWC said in a statement. “Our agency was notified of this animal when it got stuck in a fenced-in yard on Dec. 13, 2022. Capture was deemed necessary for the welfare of the animal. A transmitter was attached to it opportunistically as part of our ongoing urban crocodile study. He was released within one mile of his capture location in the Indian River Lagoon.”

Although the FWC said there isn’t a public safety issue after the recent sightings, the agency is stressing that the rules on staying safe from alligators and crocodiles remain the same.

Here are some tips from the FWC to stay safe:

  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the water’s edge
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours and without your pet
  • Never feed either species
  • It’s illegal and dangerous to interact with the animals

For more information, visit here.