Well, one of the highlights on Coiba Island is Tito the crocodile. And we are going to tell you a little about him before you might meet him yourself. Coiba Island is the ideal habitat for Crocodiles with primary tropical rain forest, 150 miles of coastline, numerous rivers and mangrove habitats. And the most famous one, frequenting the ranger station is TITO, (approx.) a 14 foot saltwater American crocodile. But don´t you worry, you are not going to dive with him. A long time ago, near a small village by the Ocean in the mangroves Tito was born. Shortly after, he was kept in a cage on the beach serving as a family pet. Not considering that he might get bigger and bigger and yes bigger and of course hungrier, the environmental authorities returned him back into his natural habitat on Coiba Island. As a result of his captivity Tito was accustomed to humans and remains in their proximity. You can most likely meet Tito at high tide close to the shore or sunbathing on the beach. At the start of dry season around November he usually disappears probably for mating as nesting occurs in dry season. This is to minimize flooding for instance whole nests as they are in danger of falling below the water table after heavy rains according to Campbell, HW (1972). Tito is usually back by January continuing with his usual rituals. At the end of April 2015 Park Rangers fenced off the direct access to the Beach where Tito is sunbathing as there were many tourists wanting to have a really close picture with him even going as far as entering the water behind him. And Tito is not the only crocodile swimming in these waters. You have to imagine in comparison to a human’s jaw with 100 pounds of pressure per square inch, a Crocodiles jaw can apply 5000 pounds of pressure meaning they can easily bite through an arm or a leg. Well for now, nobody can enter Tito’s waters anymore, still visit him though. Now you know a little piece of Coiba’s History, so come, learn more and be part of your own! By the way American crocodiles are considered as vulnerable by the IUCN Red list with only 10.000-20.000 left.
Fotos by: Caroline Blake
Campbell, HW (1972). Ecological or physiological interpretations of crocodilian nesting habits. Nature 238: 404-405