A lounging saltwater crocodile got shown who’s boss when a more aggressive croc lurched out of a residential canal in Islamorada and scared the other one off a seawall swimming for its life.
Tourists on an eco tour got to see the whole thing Wednesday afternoon.
Capt. Samantha Zeher, of Keyz Charters, was piloting her boat through the canals when the confrontation happened. She captured the territorial shoving match on video and posted it on Keyz Charter’s Facebook page.
Zeher did not want to disclose the exact location of the croc fight.
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In the video, a smaller croc is lying on the cement seawall getting some sun. A large crocodile is in the water and slowly making its way up the stairs to the dock before leaping into action, terrifying the other reptile.
They both plop in the water, with the smaller croc dashing through canal trying to get away from the dominant reptile.
The native habitat for the American crocodile is in South Florida and the Keys. The crocodiles were almost extinct in the 1970s, but state wildlife officials estimate their numbers to be around 2,000, thanks to conservation efforts.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s policy in the wake of the crocs’ comeback was to do nothing. The animals are simply “reestablishing themselves in their historic range,” agency officials repeatedly told residents worried about seeing the crocs basking on seawalls and swimming in canals.
But Fish and Wildlife announced in September that the policy has changed. Officers and trappers are now trying to encourage crocs that live too close to people to move elsewhere.
Although they are docile — more so than alligators — and there has never been a recorded attack on a human, they have been known recently to snack on some area pets, thus prompting the policy amendment.
“The FWC has taken a different stance on the crocodiles, especially in light of the public’s reaction to a couple of recent tragedies,” FWC Capt. David Dipre told the Islamorada Village Council during a Sept. 6 meeting.
While FWC officers are not going to kill the crocodiles in residential neighborhoods and canals, the agency and its contracted trappers will now make the animals’ lives uncomfortable by making loud noises and finding other ways to bother them with the goal that they’ll move on, Dipre said.