A Sarasota man was swimming when an alligator attacked him in Myakka City

MYAKKA CITY, Fla. (WWSB) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation now says a Sarasota man was swimming at Lake Manatee Fish Camp when he was attacked by an alligator.

“They usually move long before you get close to them, they just want to get away,” said Jonathan McPherson, a boater in Lake Manatee. “If the guy was swimming somewhere he shouldn’t have been, then I understand why it happened.”

The victim of the alligator attack is Eric Merda, 43, of Sarasota, who lost a large portion of his arm. According to wildlife expert Justin Matthews, given the severity of the injury, it was most likely a good-sized alligator.

“A six-footer can rip your arm off, this alligator here being so close to people, I think someone fed it before,” Matthews said.

FWC says Merda was swimming in the water. Experts urge people not to swim in these types of bodies of water.

“The way they hunt, they’re on the bottom about 7 or 8 feet from the edge of the water, have these sensors at the end of their snout,” Matthews said. “When the sensors say there’s something out there, they just jump up, grab it, bring it back inside.”

Merda was airlifted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital for treatment for his injuries. His condition is unknown at this time. McPherson says that won’t stop him and others from enjoying those waters.

“I personally carry a gun, I’m more concerned about water moccasins than alligators,” McPherson said.

FWC says they are still working on trapping this alligator and are continuing their investigation.

Copyright 2022 WWSB. All rights reserved.

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