An American croc hatchling seen during a nocturnal eyeshine this past September.

Covid doesn’t stop wildlife!!!
While a lot of the world has slowed down due to the world pandemic, nature goes on as normal. The last several weeks has been some of the busiest in regards to CRC responding to crocodile calls alongside Belize Forest Department, as well as other wildlife rescues.

One of the relocations included Pig Pen. After several weeks of monitoring him after being rescued from an old water tank, seeing a vet, and going under rehab, he showed us he was ready to be released back into the wild- he could not stop smiling seeing his new home! We also received a call from a wildlife champion about a crocodile being in their pool. The CRC team packed equipment needed to catch the croc but when we got there it wasn’t an ordinary pool, but about a 1 acre pond! Crocs are highly intelligent and this 1.4m male American crocodile whom we named Einstein demonstrated for over a month their intellect- outsmarting every possible trap we used, even techniques from international colleagues. We finally caught Einstein after an hour of pursuit via kayak and relocated him to the Placencia Lagoon which still has prime American croc real estate.

One of our cutest non-scaly rescues was about 3 baby raccoons that were discovered near a restaurant after Hurricane Nana. The owners had not seen a mama raccoon for days and it was assumed she may have been displaced with the hurricane. The babies went into immediate care with CRC Sr. Next Gen Croc volunteer Erica Holding and they have been doing great. Luckily our friends up in Wildtracks have another group of babies about the same age so these 3 musketters will be able to join a larger group prior to release to the wild.

CRC goes virtual!
Throughout the month of August and into September, Dr. Marisa Tellez and Research Coordinator Jane Champion led a virtual fellowship course through Loop Abroad, focusing on the research of the Placencia Lagoon. Students learned all about the wonderful world of crocs, as well as how the CRC is monitoring the manatee population of the Placencia Lagoon via drone surveys, in addition to utilizing parasites as biological indicators of the health of the environment and free living community. Students got to participate in the research by analyzing drone pictures, camera trap photos, and assist in the identification of parasites. Students also learned about croc morphometrics by using their pets or stuff animals as stand-in crocs (see video). CRC will be leading another virtual fellowship program in January through Loop Abroad. To find out more head to: https://www.loopabroad.com/crocodile-manatee-research-fellowship/

Wildlife Wednesday Highlight!
The Placencia Lagoon has alot of diversity of animals, and just to highlight one of them, the Bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas). Yes, we have Bull sharks! CRC has observed a 6ft Bull shark in the lagoon during a crocodile eyeshine survey, and we have spoken with a few fishermen who have caught baby/juvenile bull sharks.The Bull shark is large and stout, reaching a length of about 8 feet long.  Humans on occasion do encounter them while snorkeling, scuba diving, and even quite possibly while swimming at the beach, where they often feed in shallow, murky waters. They feed mostly on other fish, smaller sharks, small mammals, and stingrays.

September Outreach and Research:
Given no formal educational outreach can be conducted right now, we have still been trying to connect with the community in various ways. CRC Program Coordinator Darcy has been leading snorkeling clean ups with some of the Next Gen Croc kids from Seine Bight, as well as currently working on a book to educate the public more about Placencia Lagoon’s most commonly known wildlife. And the CRC team alongside volunteer Anna Mendoza headed out for a Nocturnal Eyeshine Survey in an area around the Placencia Lagoon where three successful American crocodile nests hatched this past season. Our night was active, we saw deer, heard various bird calls, and spotted 32 hatchlings, all while fish kept jumping out of the water and into the kayak, which always brings a moment of fright- but all in good fun!

Despite how busy we were in September, the croc wheels were turning in our head as we prepared for the greatest month of the year – CROCtober!!! Make sure to catch next month’s edition of A Load of Croc as it will be CROCtabulous!