The American crocodile is the most widespread of the crocodile species that inhabit the Americas. It can be found – far and wide – from Southern Florida and Southern Mexico, to Peru and Venezuela. Most of this crocodile’s diet consists of fish – and here we have an incredible sequence showing one croc trying to subdue and eat a large game fish not 15 feet away from the photographer.
This series of pictures was shot by the ocean in Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, where crocodiles and terns were catching their dinner in the open sea. The crocs – which can swim at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour (29 km/h) – were hunting by facing incoming waves with their jaws wide open, then snapping them shut at the right moment! Here we see the enormous beast dragging itself and the fish out of the water and onto the beach.
This wide shot shows how well camouflaged the crocodile is against the ocean and beach – particularly under darker skies. The fish is a game fish called a black snook, which is known for being fast and strong, and can grow to up to five feet long. This particular specimen was around two-and-a-half feet in length; still, that’s quite a size!
Crocodiles cannot chew but instead use their massive jaws for gripping onto their prey. This croc therefore needed to get the fish into the right position so it could gulp down its slippery catch. The fish was still fighting for its life on the beach, thrashing about to make the crocodile’s job more difficult.
Photographer Anton Sorokin had this to say about this next image: “The snook kept struggling and the croc wasn’t about to give up either. He [the crocodile] would rapidly tilt his head back, open his mouth and snap his jaws shut before the snook could fall out to rapidly reposition it into the best position for swallowing.”
The struggle reaches its gory climax. Blood is squirting from the fish’s tail and body, all over the crocodile’s jaws and jowls as it devours its prey. Despite its menacing appearance, the American crocodile is considered threatened, with hunting for its hide, habitat loss and pollution among the dangers it faces.
The coup de grace! Finally, the crocodile has finished its meal. Apparently, with the fish positioned right, swallowing it down into its throat took the croc a matter of seconds. Then, after less than a minute’s rest and digestion time, it was back into the water for more.