Tuesday, 12 April 2022

Fisherman attacked by Crocodile in Belize.

A man is being treated for injuries to the face after being attacked by a Crocodile while spear fishing on Friday 8 April 2022. Joshua Young of Caye Caulker, an offshore island in the Caribbean Sea, made it back to shore safely after being attacked by the Animal and was taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital for treatment. He is described as being in a stable condition.

The location of Caye Caulker on the coast of Belize. Google Maps.

Two types of Crocodile are commonly found in Belize, the American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, and the Morelet’s Crocodile, Crocodylus moreletii, both of which are large enough to present a threat to Humans. 

The Morelet's Crocodile reaches about 3 m in length, and while generally not considered a danger to Humans, at least 12 fatal attacks by this species have been recorded, with large prey such as Cattle and Tapirs often taken by fully grown adults. However, whilst fairly common in Belize, the Morlet's Crocodile is essentially a freshwater species, and while it will occasionally enter brackish marshes or lagoons, is unlikely to be found in the open marine waters around Caye Caulker.

A Morelet's Crocodile in Belize. The Croc Docs.

The American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, is found throughout the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of northern South America, southern and western Mexico, and parts of Florida. American Crocodiles are unusual in that, while they will enter freshwater environments, their favoured habitat is saltwater lagoons, mangroves, and small islands, a habit they share with only one other Crocodile species, the Indo-Pacific Saltwater Crocodile, Crocodylus porosus. This makes the American Crocodile a much more likely candidate for the attack on Mr Young.

An American Crocodile, Crocodylus acutus, in Placencia Lagoon, Belize. Crocodile Research Coalition.

The species can grow quite large, with mature males often exceeding 4 m in length and the largest measuring slightly over 6 m, but are not particularly agresive towards Humans as long as they are left alone. They predominantly feed on small Mammals, Birds, Fish, and Turtles, but have been known to take larger prey on occasion, including Cattle. American Crocodiles are classified as Vulnerable under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

The Belize Forest Department has warned people against feeding Crocodiles, especially around tourist areas, as this can lead to them becoming aclimatised to Humans, leading to further conflict. They have also warned fishermen to be careful of how they dispose of Fish waste, which can also lead to Crocodiles associating Humans with food.

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