Around 2,000 American crocodiles live in one of the most polluted rivers in Central Amera, the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica.
The Tarcoles River is located in an area with a high concentration of agricultural and industrial activity, which has resulted in pollution from untreated wastewater, agricultural runoff, and other sources.
Experts say the river has become the sewer of San José, the capital of Costa Rica. Even though the pollution poses a significant threat to the ecosystem and the animals that live in and around the river, biologists are surprised that the crocodiles in the area haven’t gone done in numbers.
“It is a super-contaminated area, but this has not affected the crocodile population,” Ivan Sandoval, a biologist at the National University of Costa Rica, said. “Heavy metals, nitrites, nitrates, and a large amount of human waste can be found (in the river).”
Sandoval said that the alligators seem to survive under very tough conditions in the river, where 150 types of bacteria have been detected.
The crocodiles in the Tarcoles River can grow up to six meters (20 feet) in length and are considered one of the largest crocodile species in the world. They are an important part of the ecosystem and are protected by law in Costa Rica.
The crocodiles in the Tarcoles River have become a popular attraction for tourists, who can take boat tours to see them up close. Juan Carlos Buitrago, who captains one of the tour boats, said he and other locals regularly pull plastic waste and hundreds of tires from the water.
He enjoys the river’s wildlife, with macaws, crocodiles and other animals, but wishes his fellow citizens would stop polluting his “office.”
Efforts have been made to reduce the pollution in the Tarcoles River, including implementing wastewater treatment facilities and promoting sustainable agricultural practices, but so far, with little success.