Crocodile Attacks in Tamarindo, Costa Rica


This—“Crocodile attacks surfer in Tamarindo” by Lindsay Fendt—is an interesting article because it looks at the “crocodile problem” from several angles, including pointing out that, more often, it’s people—not crocodiles—who cause a problem. It also proposes getting help from the Costa Rica Environment Ministry (MINAE) for several solutions, such as posting crocodile warning signs and training the local guides to stop feeding crocodiles during their ecotourism excursions. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

On the first day of his surf trip in Tamarindo March 6, Montreal native Val Muscalu was waiting his turn for a wave when suddenly he was ripped off his board. Muscalu felt something strong clamp down on his left foot.

He remembers kicking out and swimming backstroke to shore, but everything else is a blur. It was only later, on his way to the hospital, that Muscalu learned the identity of his underwater assailant: a crocodile. “I couldn’t tell what it was,” Muscalu told The Tico Times. “But that thing was strong enough to pull me off my board. I thought it was a shark, but people on the beach saw a crocodile swim back into the river.” Other surfers helped Muscalu wrap his rash guard around his foot and someone rushed him to a doctor.

Long curvy scars and puncture wounds consistent with a croc bite now run along the left side of Muscalu’s foot. But by all accounts the surfer got off easy. Muscalu — a former member of the Canadian National Waterpolo team — was strong enough to tread water even while the crocodile tried to tug him under, and paddle his way to shore with a serious wound.

[. . .] Muscalu’s attack follows a series of others in recent years. Last year a man was eaten alive while attempting a drunken swim in the croc-infested Tarcoles River. Several months later, a wildlife expert was mauled while giving a demonstration on proper crocodile relocation. Since 2013, there were five other reported attacks, including one — on a Spanish surfer in October 2013 — in the same spot where Muscalu was attacked. The surfer’s injuries were minor. [. . .]

In response to the attack, the development association wrote a letter to the Environment Ministry (MINAE) asking for help with the crocodiles. The letter asked the ministry to repost the crocodile warning signs that used to be in the area but were stolen, and to begin studying the area’s crocodiles to determine which ones should be relocated.

[. . .] But crocodile experts say it’s often people, not crocodiles, who cause a problem.

In Costa Rica, in particular, the prevalence of ecotourism and the habitual feeding of crocs by tour operators has made the animals accustomed to people. Schmid said feeding crocs has been a problem in Tamarindo. “I’ve seen some of the river guides do it in the past, as well as some restaurants,” Schmid said. He said he wanted MINAE to train the local guides to stop feeding crocs. [. . .]

For full article, see

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