The Stubborn Reptile

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Conservationists have labeled the Tárcoles River flowing through Costa Rica’s capital as one of the most polluted waterways in Central America, with garbage and wastewater from San José flowing into the river every day.

But the crocodiles in the river don’t seem to care – scientists have noticed they are thriving, according to Agence France-Presse.

“It is a super-contaminated area but this has not affected the crocodile population,” said Ivan Sandoval, a biologist with the National University of Costa Rica. ​“The Tárcoles River is the most polluted river in Costa Rica, and one of the most contaminated in Central America.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the crocodile species – known as Crocodylus acutus – as “vulnerable.” Their population numbers around 5,000 crocodiles across 18 countries.

The crocodiles are some of the largest in the world: Males can reach up to 20 feet in length and weigh hundreds of pounds.

Sandoval explained that the Costa Rican reptiles are “healthy and robust” and appear to be doing well despite swimming in waters contaminated with 150 types of bacteria.

He describes the carnivores as “living fossils” because of their ability to survive very tough conditions while not changing “anything in millions of years.”

Still, Costa Ricans worry that the pollution might affect other species.

The Central American country has impressive environmental credentials, with a third of its territory and 53 percent of its forest cover under protection, according to the UN’s environmental agency.

​Still, unequal application of the law means the Tárcoles River remains dirty.

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