ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A body -- surrounded by gators -- was found in the mangroves of a St. Petersburg lake, and a medical examiner team is working to determine a cause of death.
People spending their Thursday morning at Lake Maggiore Park spotted the body. Since there were alligators in the area, first responders had to carefully move the body to a safe location, said Yolanda Fernandez, spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department.
She said there are signs alligators may have interfered with the body, but it is too early to tell whether it occurred before or after the death of the individual.
It will also take some time to identify the body.
"It's very, very hot and any body that is, unfortunately, in this heat and that's been in the water for a while is going to suffer decomposition," Fernandez explained. "At this point we're not able to tell you the gender, or anything about the victim."
Investigators are searching along the shoreline to find any items that may have belonged to the victim that could help identify him or her. Fernandez said it is clear the death didn't occur Thursday morning "due to the condition of the body."
"At this time we cannot call it an alligator attack -- simply that there were alligators around the body when we found it," she explained, "and that made it a little more difficult in getting to it."