There have been increasing reports of crocodiles being sighted in the ocean, in countries all over the world. But surely this goes against the commonly held view that crocodiles can’t live in oceans surely? I decided to take a closer look.
Do crocodiles live in the ocean? Crocodiles can’t live in the ocean permanently. However, two species of crocodiles are regularly sighted in the ocean, the Saltwater and American crocodiles. But they are predominantly freshwater species and must return to land to breed and rest.
Unfortunately, the average person doesn’t expect to encounter a crocodile while swimming in an ocean. Whilst rare, attacks are not entirely unheard of.
Take this story for example, where a Californian teen vacationing at a resort in Mexico was attacked and dragged underwater by a 12-foot crocodile. Although the 18-year-old survived the ordeal, she was left with some nasty scars.
She remained calm even as she got dragged under the water. She continued to hit the crocodile as hard as she could until it finally let go of her right leg. She said she had almost escaped when the crocodile grabbed onto her left ankle and dragged her back under.
Hearing news like this it’s only natural to wonder if crocodiles live in the ocean and whether their bodies are suited to the harsh saltwater conditions.
What’s more, many of us are already afraid of the ocean because of sharks, and the last thing we want to add to the mix is crocodiles! Thankfully, the answer to this question is rather straightforward, although not entirely reassuring.
Can a crocodile live in the ocean?
Although crocodiles are unable to live in the ocean year-round, they can spend extended periods swimming out to sea (in fact, crocodiles are regularly spotted several miles from the nearest stretch of land).
According to historical records, some ocean-faring crocodiles have even made it to countries as far away as Japan, thousands of miles away from their normal range.
In more modern-day times, crocodiles regularly turn up in places where they shouldn’t be, such as the Maldives or small and remote islands off India. Here they pose a danger to locals who inadvertently come across the large reptiles when swimming, fishing, or partaking in leisure activities.
Unfortunately, fatalities have occurred several times in the past.
Unlike their relatives, the alligator and caiman species, crocodiles can spend large amounts of time in the sea because they have developed an exceedingly strong set of salt glands that allows them to cope with saltwater environments.
Although alligators and caimans do have these glands, they do not function very well, and as such, they prefer to stick to freshwater environments.
Handy Hint: Despite people’s best efforts, crocodiles can never be truly tamed.
Why do crocodiles swim in the ocean?
According to research, crocodiles may have an easier time swimming in the ocean compared to other reptiles because they utilize currents. These currents naturally carry the crocodiles to where they wish to go and allow them to take a much-needed break from swimming.
Furthermore, crocodiles are only semi-aquatic and cannot sustain the energy required to swim for countless miles without assistance. As for the reason why crocs cross the ocean, it has a lot to do with them wanting to get to new areas that are rich with turtles and other prey, as well as finding suitable areas for nesting and breeding.
However, at times, they may follow a current that takes them off course and end up washing up on a beach, miles away from their intended destination.
Can saltwater crocodiles live in the ocean?
Saltwater crocodiles are one of the two species of crocodiles that are most seen in the ocean (hence the saltwater in their name). Like all croc species, they cannot live in the sea forever, but can easily spend several days riding currents between islands or floating on the surf near beaches.
Unlike most animals, saltwater crocodiles have the unique ability to survive without food for months and even years at a time.
Therefore, they can easily cross vast stretches of water without the risk of starving to death or drowning from exhaustion.
That being said, saltwater crocodiles still need access to water, and this prevents most of them from undertaking massive ocean journeys.
Handy Hint: Crocodiles do not sleep underwater in the ocean but check this place they do like to take a nap instead!
Are there crocodiles in the ocean in Florida?
While there are certainly crocodiles in Florida, sightings of them swimming in the ocean are rather rare compared to other areas of the world. Often, the American crocodile, a vulnerable and protected species, prefers to stick to ponds, creeks, and mangrove swamps in coastal areas of Florida.
However, just like the saltwater crocodile, they are highly adapted to ocean environments and are occasionally spotted relaxing on beaches in the sunshine state. Thankfully, American crocodiles are a shy and reserved species and attacks on humans are extremely rare if almost nonexistent.
Are there crocodiles in the ocean in Mexico?
Although still uncommon, there are more reports of crocodiles swimming in the ocean in Mexico compared to North America, particularly along the Caribbean coast, an area that stretches from Cancun to Chetumal.
However, crocodiles were recently seen taking over a beach at a popular Mexican resort after it was closed for coronavirus, with some crocs even being spotted swimming in the sea.
In general, attacks are rare but not unheard of, and tourists are recommended to exercise caution when taking a dip.
Did You Know? Despite their similarities, it’s not possible for crocodiles and alligators to cross breed or mate.
Are there crocodiles in the ocean in Australia?
While they don’t reside in the ocean, crocodiles can still be spotted in the sea in various coastal areas around Australia. They are reportedly a hazard for surfers, who must keep an eye out for the large reptiles when wading into the surf to catch a wave.
Do crocodiles ever come into contact with sharks?
At times, crocodiles and sharks have been known to stray across each other’s paths. For example, a photographer captured this incredible scene in South Africa.
Interestingly, in tropical areas, both the habitats of sharks and crocodiles overlap quite significantly, and adult crocs will often target the nurseries of baby sharks.
Similarly, larger adult sharks will sometimes prey on younger crocodiles if they are given the chance.
Typically, when we think of crocodiles, we imagine them swimming in large bodies of water in Florida or languishing by the riverside in tropical countries like Africa and Australia.
Crocodiles are typically found in freshwater areas after all, where they specialize in hunting animals and birds that venture too close to the water.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t find crocodiles in an ocean… you just might!
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Image in header https://pixabay.com/photos/sea-waves-sunset-water-ocean-6651168/