Many people walk the beach, head down, searching for interesting shells lying in the surf line, when they hit the coast.

That’s what Jennifer Clayton and her boyfriend were doing around 3 p.m. Tuesday when they spotted something that didn't quite belong.

A rather long, rather healthy-looking rattlesnake had come up out of the Atlantic just south of the Hammock Beach Resort.

While a rare sight, David Cook, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist, said he's not shocked by Clayton's discovery.

“They're commonly seen swimming offshore, they're excellent swimmers. They are the first, generally, the first of our snakes to make it to new barrier islands.”

The fact that rattlers are excellent swimmers can come as a shock to those unaware of the snake’s skill.

The question everyone has now is: Do I have to worry about a rattler bumping into me while I'm wading out into the surf?

Cook says you're better off concerning yourself with other things.

“It's still pretty uncommon to see them swimming, but they're certainly, they're not something I would spend a lot of time worrying about,” he said.

That's little consolation to those gathered on the beach a day later.

Jean Hill, who was visiting from Ohio, did some snorkeling and saw a few creatures in the water.

“Snorkeling, I've seen little worms pop out and they startle you, but a rattlesnake, you say? They're probably poisonous? Yeah, that's just, that's unfair,” she said.

Meanwhile, Carolyn and Ewel Clark, who are vacationing from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, are no fans of any type of snake.

The couple set up right near the dune line -- and the natural habitat of the rattlesnake.

“We're moving down. And if we see one, we're moving out,” Carolyn said.

Cook said there's nothing in the water the snake would hunt, so something on land may have startled to force it into the ocean - if that makes you feel any safer.

FWC biologists are actually trying to record rattlesnake sightings to see if they belong on the list of protected species because people are actually seeing less of the species.

Sightings can be reported online at