(Image: Georgiana Wingard, U.S.
Geological Survey. Public domain.)
The crocodile is able to swim the ocean
since it has the ability, as other crocodiles do, to
osmoregulate (regulate salt in) its body. This helps explain why
the species also inhabits northern South America, Central America
and the Caribbean.
However, it prefers to settle in brackish or fresh waters like lagoons,
coastal tributaries, marshes and lakes, where prey food, as well
as basking, hiding and nesting areas are more readily available.
Moreover, they are better able to grow and survive in lower
prefer calmer waters, where mobility, hunting, resting and hiding are
easier. While this is their habitat of choice, they are increasingly
seen in canals and lakes in suburban areas, probably due to the
increase in their population.
Mangrove at Everglades
National Park, part of a "stand" of which is shown in the image at
left, is ubiquitous along marine shores and provides
excellent habitat for crocs seeking security or shade,
especially smaller ones.(Image:
National Park Service)
In the exciting short video
above, a crocodile is shown (above and below the
water's surface) swimming at a mangrove stand near Islamorada in the
The crocs don't have to compete much
with ther 'gator cousins because in the Everglades the fresh
water that originates from the Kissimmee River Basin in central
Florida and from Lake Okeechobee flows southward, terminating at
Florida bay at the southern tip of the Everglades, rendering the
bay water brackish, which the crocodiles can tolerate (though
they have limits, as explained in the section on "Distribution
& Population"). This
large area, teeming with marine life
and mangrove stands, is generally a good environment for the
species, and the alligators, which can't process salt as the
crocs can, have plenty of freshwater to enjoy north of the bay.
Furthermore, the mangrove stands'
abundance of root systems serve as shelter to young crocodiles,
and to various marine life which serve as food for lurking
Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established
nearby in an effort to protect the crocodiles in the area.
Park includes Biscayne Bay, where crocodiles and mangrove
The crocodile shown here
is basking in Biscayne National Park, where mangrove forests
(Image: Judd Patterson, National
The crocodile plays its role in the circle of life
of its habitat, in part by regulating animal populations. As an apex
predator it controls the numbers when it takes animals as prey. Without
such population "management," habitat elements can be destroyed due
the overuse by excessive numbers of a certain species.
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