Friday, December 10, 2010


After living four days at the edge of a swampy, overgrown, mosquito infested tropical estuary and hearing innumerable stories about the crocodiles that inhabit the place, Lisa could stand it no longer. We had to go on a crocodile hunt! So, armed with a camera and a full can of bug repellent, we set off in the dinghy in search of a croc. We wandered up and down various channels of the swamp that backs up to the marina with the motor set at dead slow for hours peering into the dense mangroves that overgrow the banks on both sides. In some places we felt a little like Charlie Allnut and Rose in the African Queen when we had to use the oars to pole our way across shoals, in other places we would round a bend and see a palatial estate with exquisitely landscaped grounds running down to the water's edge. We saw lots of exotic birds, creepy viney things hanging from the trees, dark shadows that looked like crocodiles lurking but turned out to be mangrove branches, even mistook a large green iguana that swam across our bow for a croc. But in the end we didn't see any. I told Lisa we could come back tonight and hang out in the mangroves with a flashlight, where we'd be sure to see some crocs, but she said she'd rather go out to dinner at the yacht club.

There really are crocodiles around here. They are of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) species and they range throughout the tropical, and some subtropical, parts of the Americas. They generally inhabit swamps and marshes, but also spend some time in saltwater harbors and bays. These are big animals. Starting as a hatchling 9 inches long and weighing a couple of ounces,  the average adult male grows to about 13 feet long and weighs over 800 pounds. Females are somewhat smaller. Normally they crawl, but they are capable of galloping along at speeds up to 10mph for short distances on land, and 20mph swimming. Needless to say, they are at the top of the food chain in their habitats and can eat whatever they can catch. But they don't waste energy chasing prey, instead they lurk in the water or shadows, waiting for unwitting critters that happen to get close enough for them to lunge at and grab before they know what hit them. Apparently anything from small mammals, birds and fish, to larger prey such as cattle and humans is lunge-worthy to a crocodile. In 2007 a croc ate a human a few miles south of Puerto Vallarta. In other, more remote areas, crocs take humans frequently enough that such unfortunate occurrences don't make the headlines on CNN.  Fortunately we learned all this after we went poking around in the mangroves in our little 8 foot inflatable.

No comments:

Post a Comment