A striking image showing rows of crocodiles lined up in parallel beneath a bridge has resurfaced.
To the untrained eye, the phenomenon appears to be natural, but it was actually caused by an illegal practice perpetuated by tour operators looking to entertain visitors at Costa Rica’s most famous crocodile viewing area, Río Tárcoles.
By dangling meat near the wild reptiles, they aim to lure them close for cheap thrills, a behaviour photographer Tico Haroutiounian wants them to stop.
Although the image was taken in 2016, the photographer’s renewed plea went viral in October with thousands of social media users reacting.
Some were thrilled by the symmetry of the floating crocodiles, with one saying they resembled "a fleet of naval battleships". Another congratulated the photographer for his "insane perspective".
Others focused on the conservation message, with one describing the feeding as "concerning".
Speaking with Yahoo News Australia, Haroutiounian said heavy rains also likely contributed to the symmetry of the crocodiles as they were swimming against the stream of water as they waited for food.
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Why feeding crocodiles is a problem in Costa Rica
When Haroutiounian returned to the site this year he said while there appeared to be less feeding, the practice needs to be stopped completely.
When regular feeding occurs crocodiles hunt less and instead spend their time waiting to be fed, a practice Haroutiounian describes as “breaking the natural balance”.
“They are beautiful, but they don’t need us to feed them,” he said. “The best we can do is leave them alone and they will find a way for them to find food, and it will be better for everyone,” he said.
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