They said there was a crocodile in this lake…

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And it turned out there was! We first passed by in the afternoon, but only saw bubbles coming from what must’ve been the crocodile swimming underwater. Maybe it was scared? I don’t think it helped that the other people watching were honking their car horn and clapping to call it; I’d imagine that crocodiles avoid loud noises. They’d probably rather avoid people altogether, especially since another “spectator” told me that a crocodile was recently killed because it had attacked a cow. The only problem is that, with cattle pastures everywhere, and no natural areas left in this region of Panama, the crocodiles have nothing else to hunt. What’s the solution? Maybe there should be some sort of “crocodile insurance” for farmers who lose a cow. That way, the ranchers might not be so angry since they’ll get their money’s worth if a cow gets taken by a crocodile. The same might work for jaguars in other parts of the country, since both species don’t really want to harm people… they’d rather just be left alone in their own habitat.

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So where’s the crocodile? It’s mostly submerged in the lake, with only its eyes and nose sticking out. Look around the center of either picture above and let me know if you can see it! Unfortunately, I didn’t have a telephoto lens to zoom in, although the croc surfaced a lot closer (practically right under us) later in the day…

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The crocodile came so close that it made me wonder if people have been feeding it. There were a few dead fish and pieces of chicken in the water, so it seems the croc is learning to approach people when it’s hungry. That might not be a safe idea, since that is the main reason why predators (bears, especially) sometimes attack people, although there are rocks and a steep incline between the roadside and the water, so maybe the crocodile can’t climb up where people watch it. Even with that in mind, I still made sure that we all got into the car once our scaly friend disappeared back underwater.

Can you see me up there?
Can you see me up there?

In the second photo above, you might also be able to make out two long-necked birds on the dead tree–they are called “snakebirds,” anhingas, darters, or “water turkeys,” and they can live as far north as North Carolina and south into Brazil. Unlike most birds, anhingas have feathers that aren’t waterproof, so they fill up with water when they’re wet. This allows the snakebird to swim low with only its head sticking out, which is how the snakebird got its name. This type of feather helps the anhinga dive underwater in order to catch its favorite food–fish!

Hanging up the wings to dry!
Hanging up the wings to dry!

The only downside to these kinds of feathers is that they’re waterlogged when the birds want to come out of the water. It would be like swimming in your clothes and not being able to take them off when you’re done! For this reason, the snakebird spends lots of time sitting in the sun with its wings wide open when its finished fishing for the day.

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