Wildlife Photographer Captures Colossal Crocodile in Everglades
One lucky wildlife photographer managed to capture exactly what he was looking for during an adventure in the Florida Everglades.
Dubbed “Croczilla”, the crocodile had been previously sighted by observers who marveled at its 14-foot size. This prompted photographer Kymberly Clark to go hunting for a shot, with her camera.
Her patience paid off in the best possible way when after months of looking for the enormous carnivorous reptile, she stumbled right across Croczilla basking in the sun along the edge of a swampy pond.
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While Clark was selectively looking for the giant crocodile along areas of the park where it had previously been spotted, her achievement and luck are still impressive considering that Everglades National Park covers a whopping 1.5 million acres.
As Clark explained later, she had heard from both tour guides and park rangers that this particular giant likes to visit a spot called Nine Mile Pond. Since it’s considered the largest known crocodile in the immense park, she persistently kept looking for it.
After months of failed attempts throughout 2022 and part of 2023, Clark made a quick last stop at Nine Mile Pond after a whole day’s wider search and there it finally was. The 14-foot beast was laid out along the shore, regularly opening and closing it mouth to stay cool.
Croczilla’s presence alone was enough for some great shots, but the toothy maw of the creature being wide open did all the more to reinforce the creature’s baneful beauty.
Image credits: Kymberly Clark
According to Clark in a conversation with PetaPixel, “The crocodile almost didn’t look real. Living in South Florida, I am fortunate to see amazing wildlife creatures frequently, but this crocodile sighting is in my top three herping experiences of 2023 (including an 18-foot female Burmese Python filled with eggs and an elusive Pine Snake).”
Herping refers to herpetology, the study of reptiles.
In this case, her determination gave her a chance to spend over an hour taking photos of the crocodile, while being sure to keep a respectfully safe distance of course.
Clark further explained, “Even though American Crocodiles are extremely timid apex predators, the general rule for most alligators and crocodiles is to remain about 20 feet from them, as they can lunge 6 feet from a resting position,”
American crocodiles may be timid by the standards of their Nile and saltwater cousins, but they’re still widely considered to be more aggressive than American alligators.
These latter reptiles, though more placid, are also far more common in the Everglades and the American South in general. Their numbers in the Everglades alone are estimated to reach 200,000 or more and their population throughout the American South is estimated at over 1.5 million.
American crocodiles on the other hand have only recently had their populations recover to roughly 2,000 or so individuals.
The physical differences between the two can be difficult to spot to the untrained eye, but the distinction is important since American crocodiles are much more rarely seen. This makes Clark’s photographic achievement all the more impressive.
In Clark’s own words, “I see alligators every day in Florida, but a crocodile is a rare and extraordinary find. To spot a crocodile this large makes the experience even more special because this is about the largest found in the wild in the U.S.”
The 14-foot specimen she caught on camera is about the largest anyone can expect to see in the wild, though, in captivity, male crocodiles can reach lengths of up to 20 feet.
Even at 14 feet, this particular crocodile is truly a creature to be respectful of. Clark sums it up best when she explains in comments to Insider, “It wasn’t until I was standing next to the colossal Croczilla that I realized how small and powerless I was in comparison,”
This Didn’t bother her too much though, since she affirms, “I love the thrill of the hunt and unexpected surprises.” You can enjoy more of her genuinely impressive wildlife photography work on her Instagram profile.