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Lonely No More: Tortugas Croc Gets Seaplane Ride To Everglades

Mark Hedden
The American crocodile that has been at the Tortugas since 2003 was captured and flown to the Everglades over the weekend.

Cletus the crocodile may be lonely no more.

The American crocodile that showed up at the Dry Tortugas in 2003 was captured and loaded onto a seaplane over the weekend, then released in the Everglades.

"It was exhibiting behavior that caused us concern with regards to public safety," said Denese Canedo, a spokeswoman for Dry Tortugas and Everglades national parks.

Read more: Miles Off Key West Roams The World's Loneliest Crocodile

"It was in the swimming area with greater frequency," Canedo said, leading to concern for both human safety — and the welfare of the crocodile. American crocodiles resemble alligators, but are more rare. They are considered a threatened species in Florida, and endangered elsewhere in the U.S. They live in brackish or saltwater areas, while alligators prefer freshwater.

WATCH: Video by Shannon Collingsworth of crocodile being removed from Tortugas

The croc, which had been nicknamed Cletus (or sometimes Carlos) by park staff, was the only one of its kind at the isolated group of islands 70 miles west of Key West. He could be often be seen in the park's moat or on the beach at Garden Key, site of Fort Jefferson.

The crocodile was released in the West Lake area of Everglades National Park and swam away on his own, Canedo said.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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