Have You Spotted this Croc on the Golf Course?
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Club Editorial Assistant
If you’re an avid golfer, you likely have noticed the crocodile with the “white cube” attached to his body that has attracted curious glances from Members and Golf Staff recently. This particular crocodile has been known to hang out by holes #16 and #17 of the Hammock Course and holes #4 and #5 of the Dolphin Course. After speaking with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as well as a local conservation biologist, we’ve confirmed that our resident crocodile has been fitted with a GPS tracker to aid in state research.
Joe Wasilweski, a local wildlife expert in charge of managing crocodiles at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, says that tagging crocodiles with these transmitters is an important way to monitor the native American crocodile species that was once declared endangered. In 1975, the American crocodile was edging toward extinction in South Florida, but by 2007, their numbers increased enough to elevate their conservation status to threatened.
“The state has several crocodiles out now with satellite transmitters,” said Wasilweski. “What we’re trying to do is follow the crocodiles around to understand their natural history better, what their preferences are seasonally, and to make sure we’re handling them in the best way.”
Wasilweski said the state has captured, tagged and released crocodiles as far as a hundred miles away and they’ve come right back to their original location. “We’ve been trying to figure out what makes this happen and how we can manage them better.”
Appreciate from a Distance
While it’s not every day you see a crocodile, let alone one fastened with a manmade device, Ocean Reef Naturalist Jeanette Rivera reminds us that it’s still important to keep our distance and take photos from afar.
“American crocodiles are shy and prefer to be left alone so if you’ve seen this crocodile you’re very lucky!” said Jeanette. “It’s important for us to keep in mind that they are native and Ocean Reef is their rightful home too. We can coexist peacefully with crocodiles as long as we respect them and their habitat.”