Well, we've come to yet another Thursday and yet another installment of Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife. This will be the last installment of this feature for a bit because I have found that it could adversely effect my chances of anyone else coming down here to visit me. So starting next Thursday, a new feature entitled Kick Ass Costa Rican Wildlife will become the regular Thursday post.
When Michael Crichton penned his techno thriller, "Jurassic Park" he used Costa Rica as a backdrop to the story. The fictional islands of Isla Sorna and Isla Nublar are based on the real islands of Cocos and Tortuga, respectively and alot of the filming was actually done in Tamarindo. The novel opens with some strange animal attacks on the Costa Rican mainland that result in all hell breaking loose. For those of you who are only familiar with the movie, I can't recommend the actual book itself enough.
I am of the opinion that Crichton probably came here on vacation, took one look in any given body of fresh water here and instantly came up with the idea of a story involving dinosaurs running amok in the modern world. Why do I think this? Because down here we have a creature that actually pre-dates the dinosaurs by about 20 million years, ate them when they showed up, and survived whatever killed them. These are the crocodiles, or specific to my location; Crocodylus acutus, The American Crocodile.
|My Alma Mater|
Growing up in S. Florida I got to know it's smaller, more mellow cousin the American Alligator quite well. My mother would oftentimes have to chase them out of our yard or swimming pool in the mornings with an air horn. Sure, some of them got to be about 12 ft., but they were generally shy and pretty laid back. Attacks were rare, and were more often than not, the fault of the person messing with the damn thing.
|This man is over 6 ft. tall...|
Not so with this big bastard though... This guy kills people. And at a maximum length of 22ft (confirmed in 2004!) and packing half a damn ton, this is the closest thing we have to an actual predatory dinosaur on the planet. Crocs in Australia and Africa do have a bigger body count than the ones here in Latin America, but that is because they are closer to more populated areas like the Nile river and almost every Aussie national park. To find the crocs down here, you need to go to the fresh water estuaries and mangrove marshes which are extremely remote and difficult to get to without a guide.
Costa Rica sees at least one fatality involving these behemoths every year, and there were five in 2007...an entire group in a canoe who ventured farther than "recommended" (read: they were warned). All five were killed and only two bodies were recovered. The kicker? It was an attack by TWO (you read that right) crocs that did all this damage. And again, as per CR policy, the deaths were listed as "recreational accidents" on the official books.
The best place to see these guys is from a nice comfortable distance with a licensed guide. Below is a video of one such guide in the Tarcoles River area, and he's the same guy in the picture above...
And here is yet another Tico Crocodile Guide with his friend "Pocho". The guy's name is Chito, and he found this croc almost dead about 12 years ago and nursed it back to health. Ever since he has been doing shows in the Siquieres area with him and other crocs under his care. Do NOT try this at home...
So this concludes the final "Bastard Costa Rican Wildlife" feature for a while. Maybe another animal will piss me off enough to feature it, but for now and going forward, we are going to focus more on the "good apples" of the bunch. I am an animal lover after all, and hate to think I've been scaring away potential visitors.