Crocodiles increasingly common in Progreso, Sisal and Celestún

Crocodile with killed fish at Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
  • A crocodile guards a killed fish at Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in Yucatán. Photo: Getty

Progreso, Yucatán — Destruction of natural cienegas has pushed crocodiles into view along the Yucatecan coast.

As humans develop those wetlands, their inhabitants have migrated to new spaces, even in Progreso, Sisal and Celestún, reports the Secretariat of Urban Development and Environment. They have been found in public spaces and on private property.

In 2017, environmental authorities from the state captured two crocs in the port of Progreso, but it was only possible to return one to its habitat.

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At the beginning of July, a woman was attacked in the Celestún biosphere, a significant tourist attraction — where more gentle species are the draw.

In Chicxulub Puerto last October, a crocodile was found strolling near the main square. The reptile was transferred to remote wetlands. Residents near Sisal’s wetlands have been on alert since last year when they reported a three-meter-long crocodile.

The local species is the Morelet’s crocodile, which is a relatively small breed.

Morelet’s crocodile can be found in freshwater habitats in Central America and along the Gulf of Mexico stretching through Belize, Guatemala, and to Mexico.

In their freshwater habitats, they prefer isolated, inland swamps and marshes. Along the coast, the Morelet can also be found along the coast in brackish waters and the grassy savannas on the Yucatán Peninsula.

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During rainy season, roughly June through October, the crocodiles tend to disperse when floods make it easier to move elsewhere.

Morelet’s crocodiles are opportunistic, preying on practically anything that they can overpower. Juveniles feed largely on fish and insects; adults largely prey on other small reptiles including birds as well as small mammals — including domestic dogs and cats.

Although previously thought to be harmless to humans, recent reports of attacks on humans include at least 12 documented fatalities.

The fact that they partially ate their human victims, it is thought that those attacks were predatory rather than defensive in nature.

Sources: Sipse, Wikipedia

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