How many crocodiles are there in Puerto Vallarta and where?

This is not the first time crocodiles have appeared in the Puerto Vallarta area this year, since in February and April crocodile sightings were reported on some of its beaches.

How many crocodiles are there in Puerto Vallarta and where?
How many crocodile attacks are there in Puerto Vallarta? Image by chatst2 from Pixabay

According to data from the University of Guadalajara and various studies carried out by the municipal government and the director of the El Salado estuary, there are only 250 crocodiles in Puerto Vallarta and only 40 of them are of adult age. This number is not higher than in past years and, on the contrary, it has decreased, since a couple of decades ago it was estimated that there were almost 350 specimens and 100 of them in adult age.

However, there is an erroneous perception among the public that there is an overpopulation of crocodiles. The main reason for this perception is that they are becoming more and more 'visible' and their photographs are going viral on social networks, however, their presence in public view is due to the lack of spaces that used to be their home and are now urban developments.

The number of crocodiles has not increased in recent decades, despite the perception that there are more and more of them.

Of the estimated 250 specimens, 40 of them are of adult age and the vast majority are located in the estuary of Boca de Tomatlán and Boca Negra, so an encounter with them is complicated. So no, there is no overpopulation of crocodiles, there are even fewer than before, but they have less space to live and they have to find their way to aquatic sites.

What are the crocodile attacks like?

A crocodile attack occurs from the moment it makes its first approach to its prey, to the point of killing, devouring, or releasing it.

The pathophysiologies recognized in crocodile attacks on human victims are usually amputation of extremities and crushing of tissue and bone, exsanguination by amputation, bite marks, as well as septicemia generated by septic bites.

These wounds are described as avulsed with irregular edges and bite marks or impressions that follow the recognizable long, triangular pattern of its snout. It is necessary to remember that their fangs are not designed for chewing but for tearing, it is needless to describe how painful the bites of these predators can be.

It has been established that the occurrence of crocodile attacks, unprovoked by humans, is defensive. They are also committed protectors of their young and nests; as well as opportunistic hunters who will not pass up when the opportunity to feed presents itself.

The risk increases due to the loss of habitat experienced by the species (reduction of its habitat, use of urbanized areas), the occurrence of large specimens (three or more meters), and forced conditioning of the crocodile when feeding in natural areas (imprinting), recklessness and confidence of people when using areas where the reptile lives, among others.

Crocodile bites American tourist in Puerto Vallarta

Kiana Hummel, an 18-year-old resident of California, United States, was attacked by a crocodile while on the beach of the Marriot Hotel in Puerto Vallarta. The newspaper ABC13 reported, after confirming the attack and contacting the affected woman and the hotel staff.

According to this media, the young woman decided to go to the beach during the night with a group of friends and, after several minutes, the crocodile came out of the sea and bit her on the leg; the group tried to chase the crocodile away and it released her, but it bit her again, this time on the ankle. After moments of panic, they were able to drive the crocodile back and rescued the girl, who was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

According to the girl's testimony, the ambulance took 45 minutes to arrive at the hotel and at the hospital, before attending to her, they demanded a large amount of money in dollars.

She also accuses the hotel of not having the necessary signs and for not verbally warning people, however, Marriott's spokeswoman, Kerstin Sachl, assured that the hotel has the signs in which they refer to the fauna that inhabits the area. Fortunately, the girl did not lose any limbs, although she will require a second surgery to start walking.

Crocodile strolls in Marina Vallarta during the storm

Neighbors of Pelicanos Street in the Marina Vallarta subdivision detected a huge crocodile crossing Pelicanos Street after a strong storm was registered this afternoon.  The video shows how the reptile calmly crosses the street over the puddle of water and in this way gets under a pickup truck, apparently to look for an area where it can take refuge.

Neighbors captured the impressive reptile and were filming it until it crossed the street and got under the vehicle to avoid disturbing it. Civil Protection personnel asks people to stay away if they see one of these animals and to report it so that ecology personnel can catch it and relocate it.

And while crocodile attacks on people have also been reported in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco and Tamaulipas, Jalisco is the only state in Mexico with the highest number of documented and systematized cases. In this way, important patterns have been found, such as the fact that in the historical cases of crocodile attacks on the coast of Jalisco, 87.5% of the conflicts occurred in the water.

Precautions to avoid crocodile attacks in Puerto Vallarta

The recommendations issued by experts to avoid an attack of this type are not to allow children to approach the bodies of water inhabited by these reptiles; not to swim in risky areas and turbid waters; not to feed the animals with food remains left inside or at the water's edge; avoid letting your pets enter the water where there is no certainty that it is free of these reptiles; remove animals from natural spaces if there is evidence that they are pernicious, and not to accept them as pets.

In Mexico, in the event of possible conflicts, it is recommended to contact the municipal ecology, civil protection, firefighters, or the state or federal environmental authorities to intervene.

Crocodiles are not popular among the population, unlike whales or turtles.

Thus, it is prudent to keep in mind that despite the citizens being openly against the presence of this species, it was the urban and tourist settlements that broke into the distribution territory of the lizards and not the other way around. In addition, the killing of these animals under the pretext of overpopulation is erroneous, because, in reality, it is a young population in the process of recovery. It remains to be respectful and cautious to avoid problems with crocodiles in Puerto Vallarta.