Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 19th, 2009
Can you tell the difference between the ocean sunfish images and the marine-going crocodiles pictured on this page?
If we are to believe officials in the Cayman Islands, local eyewitnesses who are reporting crocodiles are badly mistaken. They are merely seeing sunfish, say the officials.
According to the Cayman News Services, the reported sighting of a pair of crocodiles swimming off Seven Mile Beach on September 18, 2009, could well have been two harmless ocean sunfish (like the one pictured above) that the Department of Environment (DoE) found offshore of the governor’s residence. However, the DoE said officers will continue to investigate reported sightings of a crocodile in the vicinity of the Sundowner and White Sands condominiums as crocodiles do occasionally appear in the waters off the Cayman Islands. Crocodile sighting were also reported on September 17th.
“After receiving a call this morning about another crocodile sighting on Seven Mile Beach, Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr immediately checked out the details. However, on entering the water, he found two sunfish,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.
“A previous report of a crocodile in July this year off Seven Mile Beach was also later confirmed as a sunfish,” she said. “Two types of crocodiles are naturally found in the north-western Caribbean, namely the American and Cuban crocodile.
The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) has a wide range and can be found in Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and the Southern States. The Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) is only found in south-western Cuba. However, skeletal remains found locally indicate that historically both species were naturally present in the Cayman Islands.
“Many crocodiles have a ‘wandering’ phase, in which young animals range far and wide in search of new habitat. The Cayman Islands falls within the natural range of both these species, therefore we should not be surprised at an occasional appearance off our shores,” Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie explained.
In Florida, some 500 – 1,200 American crocodiles thrive in the wild. To date there have been no recorded attacks by this species on humans in the United States where they are a protected species. In other countries, in most cases, when attacks by American Crocodiles do occur, the attack is directed towards a person who is trying to catch or harass the crocodile.
“For this reason, the DoE is adhering to the Florida Guidelines for dealing with American crocodiles. These recommend that when wandering individuals are located, they be left alone and not harassed. In most cases, they do move on, naturally and of their own accord,” she said.
So, did you correctly identify the right species in the photos above?
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