This past week, Kym Clark, a hobby wildlife photographer, came across one of the Everglades’ most well-known residents: Croczilla. The crocodile is estimated to be 14 feet long and is rumored by park staff and tour guides to be the largest in the park.
“There he was right there on the shoreline looking right at me. He almost didn’t look real. He was huge,” Clark told F&S. “I couldn’t pull myself away. It was so interesting, and I knew it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The crocodile was spotted at Nine Mile Pond in Everglades National Park, a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing. Croczilla is estimated to measure over 14 feet in length, which is the upper limit of what the species can grow to, according to the National Park Service.
“As a Floridian, I see alligators all the time. They are very common, but crocodiles are not so common,” says Clark. “You can only see them in the southernmost part of Florida. And in fact, the only place I’ve ever spotted crocodiles was at Everglades National Park.”
South Florida is the only place where American crocodiles and American alligators are known to coexist. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, the American crocodile is “an endangered species success story.” Their numbers have climbed from less than 300 in 1975 to more than 2,000 adult crocodiles in the wild today. The species, which is now considered “threatened,” is much more elusive than Florida’s 1.25 million alligators, which can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties.
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To spot crocodiles, Clark advises that animal enthusiasts spend time near the Flamingo Visitor’s Center in Everglades National Park. As for Croczilla, park visitors can expect to see him occasionally making appearances at Nine Mile Pond. “I’m absolutely going back to the Everglades. I love it there,” says Clark. “Every time I go, I will continue to look for him.”