HomeOutdoorsNewsRare Florida crocodile spotted 200 miles from the Everglades

Rare Florida crocodile spotted 200 miles from the Everglades

by Caitlin Berard
American crocodile lounging on eel grass
(Photo by Gregory Sweeney via Getty Images)

Florida: best known for its beaches, its amusement parks, and its year-round summer sun. Then, of course, there’s the booming alligator population. But did you know Florida also houses American crocodiles?

For the slightly (or deeply) reptile-obsessed, this little fun fact is actually the most interesting thing the Sunshine State has to offer. The ecosystem of the Florida Everglades is the only one in the world where alligators and crocodiles coexist. For the most part, at least.

One crocodile broke this rule when he ventured remarkably far north. After being spotted by a Melbourne Beach resident, police located and documented the roaming reptile.

For reference, Melbourne Beach is a whopping 200 miles from the Everglades, just south of Cocoa Beach on the east coast. This croc swam a long, long way in his solo expedition.

“Florida Fish and Wildlife is aware of this croc hanging around Sixth Avenue River Access and the Key Streets. They [estimate] his age to be about 10 years old,” Melbourne Beach Police wrote in a Facebook post.

Interestingly, this crocodile isn’t new to northern travel. As Melbourne police explained, he has a telemetry tracking tag because he’s so fond of travel. He was tagged “because he’s one of the northernmost American crocodiles, and they want to follow where he goes in the winter.”

As rare as crocodiles are in Florida (there are only around 2,000 in the entire state), this one is even more special. Less than 12 individuals in the Sunshine State currently wear the tracking unit, and he’s one of them.

Always admire Florida’s crocodiles from afar

In addition to sharing interesting tidbits about the rootless reptile, Melbourne Police urged anyone who sees the crocodile to avoid harassing or feeding him. Not only is it extremely dangerous to the human involved but it’s also a serious crime.

“He is federally protected, so please do not mess with or FEED him,” they wrote. “It is a Felony.”

Now, if this seems like common sense, good! It should be. Sadly, however, this obvious law is ignored all too often by those looking for the perfect picture, social media post, or story.

As humans, it’s easy to fall victim to our own hubris, but remaining respectful of wildlife is an absolute must for any outdoorsman. Failure to do so can result in severe injury for you and death for the animal.

American crocodiles are shy and typically stay far away from humans, making attacks extremely rare. Should someone feed the Florida crocodile, however, he would begin to lose this healthy fear of humans.

Instead of keeping his distance, he would associate people with food and be far more likely to approach them. If such an encounter resulted in an injury to the human, the crocodile would be euthanized.

American crocodiles are a recovering threatened species and, like any animal, deserve our respect. Take pictures and admire them, but do so from afar!

Maintain an 80-foot distance minimum from crocodilians, should you see one, to ensure your own safety as well as that of the animal.