SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. - Neighbors along one street in Satellite Beach, Florida are snapping pictures and sharing stories of a rare crocodile showing up in their backyards.
Courtney Mott said her husband first spotted it over the weekend swimming in the canal and sunning itself on their next-door neighbor’s dock and yard. Their Berkeley Street neighborhood sits along the St. George Canal where the water runs right up to their backyards and wildlife like manatees and turtles can be spotted swimming year-round. The crocodile is a first for Mott though.
“He laid there probably for like two hours,” said Mott. “So, my husband got a better look and he’s like, ‘I think that is a croc!’”
A crocodile spotted in Satellite Beach. Courtesy: Peter Campbell
Several neighbors said they ran their photos by wildlife experts they knew to get confirmation, and they said, like most thought, this was no alligator. The sightings continued into the early week as the crocodile began showing up on other docks along the canal. Most neighbors who saw it estimated it was between eight and ten feet long.
“[Lived here] 20 years bro,” said one neighbor, calling himself "Fast Eddy," who snapped pictures of the croc on his neighbor’s dock Monday. He said of all the things he has seen in the canal, he has never seen this. “Never, only gators bro. Not crocs.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website, American Crocodiles do live in very small numbers in Southern Florida, although rare sightings have come up in this part of the state. The group’s “Living with Crocodiles” guide says the crocodile was once considered an endangered species but has been upgraded to threatened due to conservation efforts in recent decades.
FWC says the animals are still extremely rare to see though and people must be willing to co-exist with them in order to save their population. Most along the canal Tuesday seemed to consider the animal’s presence there as a novelty and a cool moment to share.
Mott said it was a bit scary to see so close by and she is keeping a closer eye on her dog when in the backyard, but overall she’s taking it in stride.
A crocodile spotted in Satellite Beach. Courtesy Courtney Mott
“My husband spoke to an FWC officer last night who said they’re actually not as dangerous as people think,” said Mott.
FWC’s website recommends people simply leave crocodiles alone if spotted, keep a distance from them, and watch small pets and children in areas where they’ve been spotted. Also, they recommend people avoid swimming in crocodile occupied waters during dusk and dawn when the animals are most active.
The group also states on their website that it is illegal to feed wild crocodiles, and doing so can lead to the animals become a nuisance.
In a neighborhood that’s already used to living with alligators and other wild animals near-by, neighbors said they’re not too worried about the new visitor; who most imagine will move along in time.
“They’re just chill,” said Fast Eddy, “they’re just like gators.”
As of Tuesday afternoon neighbors reported they hadn’t seen the croc in the canal since the night before.