Story highlights

Police respond to a call from fishermen who spotted a body in a canal

Officers arrive to find alligators having at the remains

Authorities believe the body had been decomposing for "a while"

CNN  — 

Alligators may be common in Florida, but it’s not every day that police find them feasting on human remains.

That’s what happened Monday evening, when police responded to a call from fishermen who said they had spotted a body and alligators nearby.

Officers arrived to find a gruesome scene at a canal in the town of Southwest Ranches, just southwest of Fort Lauderdale. Alligators were in the water with a human body.

“It did seem like the alligators did get at the remains,” said Sgt. Pablo Castaneda, spokesman for police in the nearby town of Davie.

The body of a male was retrieved after authorities shooed the gators away.

The death is a mystery

Police said they don’t know who the man was, or how he died.

“Definitely we want to identify who the victim is and to possibly figure out what happened to them. How did they end up here? Could it be a homicide? Could it be a suicide? Could it be natural? … We don’t know,” Castaneda said.

Investigators don’t believe the alligators killed the person, Davie police Capt. David Engle said.

While they don’t know how long the remains had been at the canal, Castaneda said it seemed it had been “a while.”

“I’ve never, in my time here in Davie, I haven’t come across a case where we have alligators getting at the remains,” he said. “But I’m sure it’s happened before.”

CNN’s Khushbu Shah contributed to this report.