We have often been asked if there are crocodiles in the ocean at Puerto Vallarta. First, let us say, all rivers empty into the sea. Given that, we have assembled an informative list of ten facts about this frightening, yet normally inoffensive reptile.
1. The local species is known as the American Crocodile and is found throughout the Americas, most densely in Florida, along with alligators; throughout the lower coastal Pacific islands; Mexico; Central America; and the very northern reaches of South America.
2. Crocodiles inhabit areas up to twenty miles inland in the states of Nayarit and Jalisco.
3. A mature male crocodile can grow to a length of five to six meters (16 – 19 feet).
4. Adult crocodiles have no natural predators, other than man, who at one time had an extraordinary desire for unusual and fancy dancing shoes, along with his waltzing partner who imagined herself underdressed without her chic, scaly handbag. Terrestrial or riparian (animals found in or around rivers) are likely prey. Crocodiles are potentially dangerous to humans, but it’s not a very aggressive species and attacks are rare. It can be said we are much more of a threat to them than they are to us.
5. Attacks on humans over the decades have been rare and have mostly been involved with someone engaged in illegal activity, such as trespassing, stealing turtle eggs or hazardous fishing schemes.
6. The above makes sense, knowing that crocodiles hunt at night, preferring limited moonlight. They will feed in daylight hours however, as upheavals in their territory can create a disturbance of habits.
7. Though there are often alarms about crocodiles, there have rarely been reports of attacks on humans. Dogs, on the other hand, are a different story. Crocs love dogs and they are easy prey since they have a tendency to get close. Being aware of this hazard, we keep the pup on a leash, at all times. Dogs often approach crocodiles in full offense, barking and woofing, and don’t realize they are a tasty treat for the swift and deadly reptile. Leash, leash, leash.
8. Oddly, one of the largest populations of the American crocodiles is not in a river at all but in a lake; Lago Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic, which has high saline content.
9. The American crocodile is the only crocodile species that thrives in both fresh and salt water. This is the result of salt glands under their tongue.
10. In the Puerto Vallarta area, there are two destinations for viewing and learning more about crocodiles, which we highly recommend. They are the University de la Costa Preserve, just south of Flamingos (where the huge golf ball can be seen from the highway). The other is the Estero el Salado Sanctuary, just north of the large mall – Galeria Liverpool. Both are a quick turn off the main highway – Carretera Francisco Medina Ascencio.
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