San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Crocodile Lagoon Losing Namesake

CROCODILES are the latest victimsof development in the coastal communityof Tamarindo, in the northwesternprovince of Guanacaste. In this case thedevelopment is a small wall placed by anunknown person attempting to divertwater runoff.Runoff is now going directly intowhat is known as the Crocodile Lagoon,a mangrove-filled lagoon at the north endof town that, as its name suggests, is typicallyfilled with a variety of young andadult crocodiles.With the water comes a lot of sand,which has filled the 8,000-squre-meterlagoon over the past year since the wallwas placed, according to Claudio Auffret,owner of La Laguna del Cocodrilo Hotelnext to the lagoon.“Before the March rains started therewas a month when all the fish died. Thecrocodiles also stopped coming,” Auffretsaid. “I have been here for eight yearsand this is the first time this has happened.The crocodiles always come.”Resident Jim Sweeney says the problemis complicated by wastewater runofffrom nearby hotels that is also divertedby the wall to the lagoon.Auffret contacted the EnvironmentMinistry’s Santa Cruz office, which hasjurisdiction over the area, to address theissue.Katia Madrigal, head of the office’swildlife department, told The Tico Timesthe amount of water in lagoons alwaysrecedes during hot summer months. Shesaid she asked for Auffret’s help inremoving the wall, which is made ofsandbags, so that “water flow can be normalized”and if it is put up again, “residentscan watch who does it.”“We cannot file a complaint againstthe person who did it, when we don’tknow who it is,” Madrigal said. “It is difficultfor us to be vigilant about such athing because we are very few peopleworking a large area.”The lagoon is part of the natural patrimonyand falls within the 200-meterpublic Maritime Zone, Madrigal said, butit is not part of the nearby Las BaulasNational Marine Park.Auffret said it is not his responsibilityto remove the wall, or to find out whoput it up.In the meantime, he says the comingrains will likely alleviate the situation,for now. Several crocodiles have alreadycome back, he said.

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