Crocodile catches vacationers in Tayrona National Park by surprise

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A report from The City Paper.

A large crocodile that emerged from a mangrove near the beach of Cañaveral in Tayrona National Park rocked vacationers out of their deck chairs and became the focus of social media attention.

As the crocodile made its way toward the shoreline of a small cove promoted in travel guides for its stunning views of the highest coastal mountain range in the world – the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – a few beach-goers in a video posted by the award-winning Spanish chef, Ricard Camarena, can be seen running off in panic after coming into close contact with the large reptile.

The Crocodylus Acutus or Caiman Aguja as it is called in Spanish is an endangered species in Colombia, yet many sightings of the reptile have been known to occur in the rivers and swamps of PNN Tayrona, given the park’s protected status for wildlife. According to the director of Tayrona, Luz Elvira Angarita, the crocodile’s presence on the beach is a good sign that conservation efforts are working. “It is necessary to remember that these habitats are not only for the enjoyment of humans, but also for the survival of these species,” she said.

Biologist Nidia Farfán of the Natural GIS corporation reminded vacationers to Colombia’s Caribbean coast that “every time one visits a national park one should ask in which sectors crocodiles are known to exist or similar animals.”

If you do stumble across a crocodile as you take that afternoon walk along Palomino beach or tube down the Buritaca or Don Diego rivers, try to maintain a minimum distance of 20 meters with the animal and do not use flash in your photos. Never throw objects at the creature and avoid swimming in murky streams and ponds, no matter how hot the day gets.

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