9-foot alligator bit Florida woman's face while she was snorkeling: 'I saw her head in its mouth,' friend says

A Florida woman was snorkeling with a friend at Alexander Springs Recreation Area over the weekend when a 9-foot alligator attacked her and bit her forehead, she told FOX 35 News. And a photographer nearby happened to snap photos of the immediate aftermath, including one that clearly shows an alligator lurking behind them.

FOX 35 News' Stephanie Buffamonte talked to the woman who was attacked about what happened.

Marissa Carr said Friday that she still cannot believe that an alligator bit her in the face on Sunday. She was out with a friend snorkeling and swimming at Alexander Springs Recreation Area, near Ocala.

"I ripped the mask off and I turn and see the two little eyes sticking out of the water," she told FOX 35. She said the 9-foot alligator came out of nowhere.

Her friend, Shane, said he heard a rush of water and then saw the gator.

"I just heard a rush of water and I turned around to make sure she was OK. And I just saw the gator," he said. 

"I saw her head in its mouth."

Marissa said it all happened in a matter of seconds. So fast, that she didn't realize the alligator had bitten her at all. 

Warning: Some of the photos do show blood on the woman's forehead, which may be disturbing to some. 

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"It didn't hurt bad in the moment. And then like, as I was running back and like, I saw what it was, that's when it started hurting," she said. 'I was like, my forehead hurts really bad and my neck isn't like so much pain."

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed the bite report to FOX 35 and said a trapper was able to find the nuisance alligator and remove it. It's actually the second alligator incident to happen within the week.

On Nov. 1, a 79-year-old man was also snorkeling and "bumped" into an alligator. The gate did not bite it, but he did receive a non-life-threatening injury, though FWC didn't elaborate on what the injuries were. 

Alexander Springs briefly closed, but has since reopened.

Marissa said she was wearing a full-face snorkel mask, not just swimming goggles. It's what she thinks may have saved her from having more serious injuries.

"Sounds bad, but it biting my head is probably the best place that it could have been because like, if it would have got my arm and that it would have got a better grip on my arm and I could have lost my arm or just like my life in general. So like, I think the head he didn't get a good grip of it. So I think I'm genuinely just really, really lucky," she said.

She doesn't blame the alligator, she said, and she isn't going to let this encounter stop her from snorkeling in the future. 

The FWC said there are several tips that people need to know when dealing with alligators in Florida:

  • Keep a safe distance if you see an alligator
  • Never feed an alligator
  • Keep pets on a lease and away from the edge of rivers, lakes, ponds, or any body of water.
  • Swim only in designated swimming area during daylight hours and without pets

If you're concerned about an alligator, contact the FWC's nuisance alligator hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR, or 866-392-4286.