Crocodile found at Barkers

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The Department of Environment have relocated a crocodile captured at Barkers Tuesday morning.

After the crocodile was captured by local fishermen and handed over to the Department of Environment, the DoE staff released it into a more remote location.

“We made the decision to take it
because we were worried about the animal’s safety,” said Director of the Department of
Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie 

“Crocodiles are shy animals. They
don’t like to be around humans and human activity. They tend to feed on fish
and crabs and the occasional small bird. Given the fact that quite a
significant crowd had accumulated at Barkers, we felt it would be better for
the animal if we got it out of potential harm’s way,” she added.

The crocodile is an adult American
Crocodile, or “Crocodylus Acutus”, similar to crocodiles that have been found
in Cayman in the past. They can more commonly be found in Cuba, Jamaica and
Florida and their range includes the Cayman Islands.

Ms Ebanks-Petrie said it appeared as
though this crocodile had been at sea for some time as it had barnacles growing
on it and may be come here from Cuba.

The crocodile was spotted off shore
from the launch site of the Kitesurf Cayman school in Barkers.

Kitesurfer and photographer Jim Gates
reported a sighting he made of the crocodile around 7.30am to the Department of
Environment Tuesday morning.

“It was about 60 to 70 feet from the
shore line,” Mr. Gates said. “I was out on my kite and I saw something in the
water, some shape, as I was making a turn… I came back to see what it was and
at first thought it was some debris in the water, but when I came right up to
it, I saw it was a crocodile with its nose out of the water.”

He said the crocodile was three to
four feet long and was mostly submerged in about three feet of water.

“I had a good look at it… I was just
a couple of feet from it,” said Mr. Gates, who tried to get the attention of
other kiters in the area. When he returned to the site a little later with
another kitesurfer, the crocodile had disappeared.

Crocodiles make occasional appearances
in Cayman, though are quite rare.

Last year, a visitor from Belize found
a small crocodile on the ironshore at Old Man Bay in the district of North
Side. Another little croc was found in the back of the Sunrise Landing
development in Newlands last year with a large metal hook stuck in its throat.
Vets saved the crocodile and later the DoE released it.

In December 2006, a nearly eight-foot
crocodile was captured in Old Man Bay. The animal, named Smiley, now lives at
the Turtle Farm in West Bay, and its DNA results determined it is a Cuban
crocodile, or Crocodylus Rhombifer, although it looks like an American
Crocodile, so may be a hybrid.

In December, 2009, after a fisherman
netted a three-foot American Crocodile in Prospect Park, the Department of
Environment staff retrieved the animal and released it. The Department of
Environment had previously caught and released into the wild that same
crocodile.

Fossils of crocodiles have been found
in Cayman, suggesting that the Cayman Islands were a natural habitat for the
animals previously.

Ms Ebanks-Petrie said the DoE staff
had tagged the crocodile found at Barkers so that if it shows up in a populated
area again, they will be able to identify it.

She said it is believed that
crocodiles seen in Cayman may move on because “they cannot find a mate and the
food source is not very good”.

 

Editor’s note: This story has been changed from its original form for clarity. 

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Graham Rankin, Emil Terry, Charles Ebanks and Curtis Bush with the crocodile captured at Barkers on Tuesday.
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