The Department of Environment has confirmed that a four- to six-foot crocodile has been sighted swimming off Seven Mile Beach.
Reports of sightings of a crocodile have abounded for several weeks, but DoE staff initially said the sightings were of sunfish.
However, Friday morning, off Royal Palms, beachgoers spotted the crocodile and called the department whose staff investigated and spotted the crocodile.
‘We had a report [Friday] morning of the crocodile in the vicinity of Royal Palms and that sighting has been confirmed,’ said Ronnie Dougal of the Department of Environment.
Asked if there were plans to catch or remove the crocodile, Mr. Dougal said: ‘We are leaving it alone. It’s protected by international law.’
Last month, the Department of Environment relocated, for the second time, a three-feet-long crocodile found in the canal near Harbour House Marina. The same crocodile had been caught in January in a canal that connects Vulgunner’s Pond in West Bay with the North Sound.
Mr. Dougal said that statistically crocodiles do not tend to attack people and were shy by nature.
For several weeks, people have been reporting sightings of a crocodile in the waters off Seven Mile, but there has been no photographic evidence available.
A regular swimmer at Seven Mile, Keith Jardim, said he had sighted a crocodile three times, the first time in late August, and he believes there is more than one in the area.
‘One of them, I’d say, was about three or four feet long. The other was bigger,’ he said, adding that he usually spotted the crocodiles in the stretch of water between Calico Jack’s and Cemetery Beach.
‘I’ll continue to swim there, but perhaps not too far out,’ he said.
Although Cayman is named after the caiman crocodile, the creatures were hunted to extinction by early settlers and are no longer endemic to Cayman.
However, salt water crocodiles are common in other parts of the Caribbean and, according to marine conservationist Guy Harvey, it is likely the crocodile spotted off Seven Mile Beach may have swum from Jamaica or Cuba.
‘They are able to make long-distance migrations,’ he said.
‘They are formidable creatures. They can grow to 18 feet,’ he said, but he does not believe the Seven Mile Beach crocodile poses a danger to swimmers.
‘They’re quite shy, and after all, we’re quite large animals ourselves. Anything under eight feet long probably wouldn’t get my attention,’ he said.
The clear waters of Seven Mile Beach also make it easy for swimmers to spot the animal, he said.
He agreed with the DoE’s decision not to capture and relocate the crocodile, as the animals tend to return to the feeding area from which they have been removed, even if that is hundreds of miles away.
Mr. Dougal urged the public to ‘leave [the crocodile] be, it’ll do its own thing’.
He said he did not know where the crocodile had come from. ‘Maybe they come here now and again and no-one’s seen them before,’ he said.
He added: ‘There are a lot of critters out there – sharks and lionfish and numbfish. There’s more chance of getting stung than getting eaten by a crocodile.’