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?

2 Down; 12 To Go

IMG_2886One of the adventures that both John and I included in our list of 14 in 14 was the Tamiami Triathlon, something we’d learned about last year on a trip to South Florida. It’s the perfect triathlon for us since it is not a competition and there is only minimal training required.

Participants can complete the paddling, hiking, and biking portions in one, two, or three days; and they can even be completed over the course of several weeks or months. The long President’s Day weekend seemed like the perfect time…not too hot…not too wet…not too buggy.

We saved what we expected to be the most difficult part of the triathlon for last. However, after slogging through the mud for five miles, biking fifteen miles on a flat, paved trail turned out to be the best part of the adventure.

There’s certainly no shortage of wildlife along the trail. Of course, the most famous residents of the Everglades, alligators, lined the path, but Shark Valley is actually a bird watcher’s paradise.

Three hours after climbing on the bikes we collected our prized Tamiami Triathlon bumper stickers. I’m glad it wasn’t a race so we could enjoy the Everglades, climb the lookout tower, and take lots of pictures. What a great adventure!

We even saw a mysterious reptile that not even the ranger could identify. What do you think? An immature alligator (about 5 feet long)? A crocodile? An exotic species? Leave a comment with your opinion.

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