Deer Swims 2 Miles in Pacific Ocean Before Resting in Family’s Backyard

by Taylor Cunningham

A California deer had a chaotic and hectic weekend when it went for a two-mile swim in the ocean before finding rest in a family’s backyard.

Someone first spotted the animal swimming in the waters off Aliso Beach around 8:30 am on Sept 18. Laguna Beach Lifeguards headed to the area but couldn’t find it. Then around 10 am, another person reported the deer swimming around Main Beach.

Laguna Beach Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond told East Bay Times that lifeguards and animal control officers went to the area it was spotted and waited for the deer on land. And when they saw it, it swam to shore, ran into a canyon under a nearby restaurant, and laid down to rest.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife was also on hand, and they advised animal control not to tranquilize the deer.

“We don’t choose to dart an animal unless it’s absolutely necessary for public safety,” said Tim Daly, a spokesman for the department. “Darting an animal near water would seem to put it into a dangerous situation. There was no reason for wildlife officers who were observing the deer today to do that.”

After catching its breath, the deer once again took off. This time, it ran a mile down a highway towards a gated community in north Laguna Beach. Once the deer was in the confines of the peaceful neighborhood, animal control officers caught it sleeping in a backyard.

Once Fish and Wildlife decided it was safe, animal control tranquilized the deer and released it back into the wild.

Deer Can Swim Up to 10 Miles at a Time

Rob Rojas, a boarding officer on a Fish and Wildlife patrol boat, said that deer are often spotted in swimming. They instinctively go to the water to remove ticks, cool down, or evade a predator.

“They can swim up to 10 miles from what I understand,” he said. “They’re pretty solid.”

However, even though the animals can swim 10 miles, they typically don’t. Bond said that this particular deer traveled a “surprising distance.” And he’s not sure why it waited so long to find land.

The officers also shared that he watches deer floating around Catalina Island occasionally. And while it’s not as common near Laguna Beach, it does happen.

The last notable incident happened in 2016 when a deer went for a dip off of Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point. A local surf coach was able to herd the deer back to shore after it went out about a quarter of a mile.