Crocodile Hunters

During the second of our 14 in 14 adventures, I photographed a mysterious reptile while completing the biking leg of the Tamiami Triathlon. In fact I posted the picture and asked for help in identifying the creature we thought resembled a five foot long crocodile.

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When we spoke to a ranger at the Shark Valley Visitor Center and shared the picture, she said Florida crocodiles can’t navigate to that area of the Everglades. Of course, I lost faith in her assessment when she suggested we saw an immature alligator. No, this was not a young alligator. Not only was the color wrong, its snout was much too pointed to be that of a gator.

Maybe we witnessed an exotic species. One we didn’t even know existed in the state.

Last Sunday, a young, man-eating, Nile crocodile was captured 5 miles from the site where we photographed what we thought was a crocodile. According to a report in the Miami Herald, the 5 1/2 foot Nile crocodile escaped from a south Florida facility several years ago and has been the subject of a search ever since.

  “They initially identified it as a caiman and then we took a look and said, er, it looks more like a croc to us,” Mazzotti said.

On Friday, the croc was confirmed as a Nile, which can grow up to 17 feet, three feet longer than Florida crocs, and three times heavier. They are also far more deadly, blamed for hundreds of fatal attacks annually in Africa. Caimans, native to Central and South America but also found in South Florida, are far smaller, averaging four to six feet.  -Miami Herald (click here for complete story with photographs)

It’s time to reassess the photo taken in February. Our original thought…a crocodile or maybe a caiman…sounds familiar. Are they sure only three Nile crocodiles escaped?