Croc sightings might be sunfish

| 18/09/2009

(CNS): A reported sighting of a pair of crocodiles swimming off Seven Mile Beach this morning could well have been two harmless ocean sunfish (like the one pictured left) that the Department of Environment (DoE) found offshore of the governor’s residence today. However, the DoE said officers will continue to investigate reported sightings of a crocodile in the vicinity of the Sundowner and White Sands condominiums as crocodiles do occasionally appear in the waters off the Cayman Islands. Crocodile sighting were also reported yesterday.

“After receiving a call this morning about another crocodile sighting on Seven Mile Beach, Chief Conservation Officer Mark Orr immediately checked out the details. However, on entering the water, he found two sunfish,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.

“A previous report of a crocodile in July this year off Seven Mile Beach was also later confirmed as a sunfish,” she said. “Two types of crocodiles are naturally found in the north-western Caribbean, namely the American and Cuban crocodile.

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) has a wide range and can be found in Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and the Southern States. The Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer) is only found in south-western Cuba. However, skeletal remains found locally indicate that historically both species were naturally present in the Cayman Islands.

“Many crocodiles have a ‘wandering’ phase, in which young animals range far and wide in search of new habitat. The Cayman Islands falls within the natural range of both these species, therefore we should not be surprised at an occasional appearance off our shores,” Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie explained.

In Florida, some 500 – 1,200 American crocodiles thrive in the wild. To date there have been no recorded attacks by this species on humans in the United Stateswhere they are a protected species. In other countries, in most cases, when attacks by American Crocodiles do occur, the attack is directed towards a person who is trying to catch or harass the crocodile.

“For this reason, the DoE is adhering to the Florida Guidelines for dealing with American crocodiles. These recommend that when wandering individuals are located, they be left alone and not harassed. In most cases, they do move on, naturally and of their own accord,” she said.

The American crocodile is different from the American alligator which is larger and has an estimated population of 1-1.5 million in Florida alone. They are also very different from the large crocodiles found in Australia and Africa.

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  1. Sir Henry Morgan says:

    One of these ‘reptilian sunfish’ was captured yesterday in a canal in the prospect area.

  2. Twyla Vargas says:

    DOES A SUNFISH, resemble a crocodile?  Will it eat off all of the other small fish?  Is it a Shy Sunfish?  Will it attack humans and walk on land like the Crocs. do?

    Of course in the Cayman Islands we welcome "Foreign Fish" as  long as they can swim with us and wont eat us off one by one.  Last night while having our usual family, Friday night "Fry Fish and fritter" I heard a fisherman say that yesterday while fishing off shore he saw a crocodile in the Eastern Districts.   So, after the crowd was feeling alarmed, at hearing this,  the fisherman continued to say; I really dont mind because it will keep people from stealing my fish pot (Fish trap)  Laughter broke loose………………….Ha, ha, ha,ha, he, he, he, ha,aha, aha, aha, ha, ha.  Then everyone began to put in orders for crocodile bags, shoes, belt, and the list went on.   Gosh it is so much fun at these "Fish and Fritter" Friday Night under the almond tree.  We are still being blessed.  Walk good Cayman.

    • Ali Gator says:

      you won’t be blessed when you are arrested for killing an endangered species !!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is only a matter of time until there is a photo then we will know for sure. Until then parents keep a close eye on your children around the beach for safety sake.

  4. Nessie says:

    News Flash…

    Loch Ness Monster might also be a sunfish, or trout, or…

  5. Nonnie Mouse says:

    I was quite surprised to see a sunfish a few months back very close to the shore when I was snorkelling.  They are very big fish to find so close to land.  Didn’t think it was a croc mind, but I suppose from above at an angle they will look very large.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Saw so more pictures of sun fish on web….. yea, still not seeing the connection with how it looks anything like a crocodile. Crocodiles are not that wide, and nothing sticks out that far out of them, like the fins of the sunfish.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well let’s wait and see when someone get bittin up for sure they will identify the differrence between the two species.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes… a bit more confusing seen from above the surface of the water!

    Check out


  8. Deeply saddened says:

    I could see why there may be some confusion if glimpsed in the sun etc. they actually quite large and unusual looking

    • What a Crock of ... says:

       …still don’t look like no crocodile… they trying to play this thing down… 

      it’s all fun and games till somebody gets eaten..

  9. You want to risk it? says:

    Looks just like a crocodile. I can see the resemblance.  Umm.  Oh yeah, they both go in the water, that’s it!!!

    • Anonymouse says:

      Yeah, the picture doesn’t really help; do a web search for sunfish pictures and you’ll see some from the surface that could be mistaken for a crocodile from a ways off.

  10. Anonymous says:

    whatta relief!  so it’s not a large iguana as somebody posted here earlier… hehehe…