Wednesday, December 01, 2021

crocodile rock

I miss the crocodiles.

As much as I like living in Barra de Navidad, it has nothing to rival being able to step out your back door to discover a crocodile. That was one of the best aspects of living on the laguna in Villa Obregón. The laguna provided a great refuge for birds, turtles, fish, coatimundis, opossum, and racoons. Not to mention the lurking feral cats.

But the top-of-the-heap in the food chain were the crocodiles. A kinship they share with the tigers of the Indian jungle, the lions of the African veldt, and the grizzlies of the Far North.

Over the six years I lived on the laguna, I invested my time in learning their ways. Reading? Sure. But most of what I discovered was simply watching them (mama rose in leather). Day and night. Wet season and dry season. And they were just steps away from my house. Often, not where I anticipated them (moving to mexico -- wildlife).

I recently shared correspondence with two visitors to the area. Both wanted to see crocodiles and had been told that the place to go is the crocodile sanctuary in La Manzanilla. I suggested that they might like to see the American Crocodile in his natural setting rather than in the quasi-zoo at La Manzanilla. The Villa Obregón laguna is the perfect spot -- and, for the next week or so, viewing them will be easy.

Now and then, the water-deciding powers determine the water level in the laguna creates a flooding danger for the homes built on its banks. On most occasions, someone in authority* will open a small breach in the dune that dams up the laguna's water from reaching the Pacific.

The rest is left to the hydraulic power of the dammed water as it gushes out of its confines. When the water and the sea meet an equilibrium, the banks along the laguna are exposed. That is when the crocodiles can best be seen. Sunning. Mingling amongst the roseate spoonbills and great blues. Snapping up unwary turtles.

At its northern edge, the laguna is fed by a stream. When the laguna is full, the stream is simply part of the reservoir. When the level is down, it reverts to what could easily pass for a brook in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With one exception. Where the water once hid the crocodiles, it is now low enough to see them.

On Tuesday, while walking back from Melaque, I paused on the highway bridges over the laguna. And there they were. Mostly juveniles. Swimming upstream or sunning themselves.

But there was one large fellow doing his best impression of the product of a British Columbia logging camp.

To do the scene justice, I needed my good Sony DSLR. All I had was my telephone camera. The results, unfortunately, are filled with digital noise. But you get the idea.

What photographs can never reveal is the excitement of seeing these prehistoric creatures. I get the same feeling when I see crocodiles in the wild as I do when seeing tigers, lions, or grizzlies in the wild. The very sight of them induces an adrenalin rush.

Nature has a way of healing her own wounds. In a short time, the gap at the ocean mouth of the laguna will fill with sand, and the reservoir will once again rise. Once more, the crocodiles will slip beneath the hyacinth-shrouded dark water.

If you are in the area and want to see what has to be one of the most fascinating of our local fauna, get thee to the laguna. Nature, like time and tide, waits for no one.

* -- Usually, the authorities open the laguna during a heavy rain or in anticipation of a storm. We have had no large rains for weeks, and none are forecasted. Now and then, the local surfer boys open the laguna on their own armed only with sticks and persistence. The resulting flood creates a current and waves that, when they collide with the incoming tide, is a challenge for the guys. 

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