Ah, a sand-between-your-toes beachside stroll on a tropical vacation ... the perfect setup for viewing a tooth-and-claw (emphasis on the tooth) saga in the surf, am I right?

Tourist Joshua Ten Brink was walking along Tambor Beach on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast last week when he spotted what he initially assumed was a drift log in the breakers.

As it turns out, this was one of those classic that-log's-a-freakin'-crocodile situations. An American crocodile, to be exact, and one enjoying a beachfront meal of stingray. Brink managed to capture footage and images of the reptile's seafood feast, gulped down in dramatic fashion amid crashing waves.

Getting to see something like this is quite the coup, but the phenomenon itself isn't strange. American crocodiles commonly cruise coastal waters, being about as comfortable with brackish habitats and periodic seagoing as their slightly bigger cousin, the Indo-Pacific (or saltwater) crocodile.

Indeed, ocean-cruising American crocs in Costa Rica have earned themselves something of a nasty reputation: since 2013, multiple surfers have been attacked by crocodiles off the popular board-riding beach of Tamarindo, which lies on the northwestern coast of the Nicoya Peninsula (Tambor Beach is on the southeast shore). The most recent of these incidents occurred in July 2016, when an American surfer suffered a serious mauling. Last October, crocs more than once crashed a surf tournament, the Essential Costa Rica Open, at Esterillos Este.

Most brine-prowling crocs, however, aren't after people. Both Indo-Pacific and American crocs consume plenty of marine prey when foraging in estuaries, bays and nearshore hunting grounds – and stingrays (despite their barbs) are fair game. American alligators, though much less saltwater-hardy than crocs, will eat them, too. 

Incidentally, this is the second time this month people have gotten an up-close look at a heavy-duty predator hungry for stingrays: a 14-foot great white shark with a heck of a propeller gash drew attention from onlookers when it seemed to briefly get stuck in shallow water while hunting for rays in the Sea of Cortez just recently.



Top header image: Matt Stone911/Wikimedia Commons