SILVER SPRINGS, Fla. - A man kayaking on a Florida river captured wild video of monkeys jumping from the trees into the water around him.
Rod Guynn said he was kayaking on the Silver River in Silver Springs State Park when he noticed multiple rhesus macaques in the trees on the side of the riverbed. That's when the monkeys started jumping from the tree limbs, loudly splashing into the water.
“I started hearing this loud barking, growling," Guynn told the Gainesville Sun. "This was not an alligator smacking his tail or a turtle jumping off a log into the river.”
After jumping into the water, the monkeys could then be seen swimming across the river to get to the other side.
"Totally unexpected experience while kayaking on the Silver River," Guynn wrote on his YouTube page. "Large males were forcing females and babies to dive and cross the river by herding [them] out to the end of limbs, then jumping up and down on the limbs until they jumped/dove in."
Hundreds of rhesus macaques reside in Silver Springs State Park. Wildlife officials said they want to curb or even eliminate the monkey population because researchers said some of the animals at the park carry the herpes B virus, which could potentially spread to humans. There have been 50 documented human cases worldwide, but no known transmissions to people from the Florida macaques.
Still, the state wants to reduce the potential of human-monkey interaction, which is difficult since people sometimes try to feed the animals or take selfies with them. Aggressive monkeys have forced the park's closure on two occasions.
A study estimated the monkey population there could double by 2022.
The macaques, native to Asia, are one of Florida's many nonnative wildlife species. While local legend says the monkeys in the park were released when the 1939 movie "Tarzan Finds a Son" was filmed in the area, experts say the primates are descended from monkeys intentionally released in the 1930s to increase tourism.
In hindsight, that was a bad idea, the researchers say.
C. Jane Anderson, a professor at Texas A&M University Kingsville and another co-author of the study, said it's not just the potential monkey-human danger that needs to be considered when managing the animals.
"We do know there's a very good chance that the Macaques are having a negative impact on native species," she said. In other parts of the world, invasive macaques ate eggs of native birds and decimated bird populations. In the Florida Keys, macaques destroyed 30 acres of mangroves, said Anderson. Additionally, 3,000 free-ranging rhesus macaques are maintained on Morgan Island, South Carolina, for biomedical research, and experts blame the monkeys for elevated levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria in the waterways around the island.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.