A video showing hundreds of reptiles sunning themselves on a shore is characterized on Instagram as a huge horde of crocodiles that have been terrorizing Brazilians.
“In Brazil, an invasion of crocodiles has inundated one of the beaches by several hundred and even thousands and the local population is panicking,” reads the caption.
The Instagram user credits the video and caption to a radio host Twitter account.
Although the footage appears to have originated in Brazil, herpetologists we spoke to say the reptiles in the video are not crocodiles and locals are not panicking about their presence.
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat hoaxes and misinformation on its news feed. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, owns Instagram. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
dr Christine Struessmann, a professor of veterinary medicine at the Federal University of Mato Grosso in Brazil, said the video was taken a few weeks ago in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland.
It’s not known where the footage came from, but one of the earliest uploads came from Pantanal Pesca, a Brazilian fish shop, which shared the video on August 25.
In the video, a man could be heard saying in Portuguese that the reptiles are located in a part of the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, a state of Brazil.
The Pantanal covers more than 42 million hectares in South America. Though much of the wetland is in Brazil, it also extends to Bolivia and Paraguay, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The creatures in the video are yacare caimans, not crocodiles, Strüssman said.
“It’s very common to have high densities of caiman at this time of year in the dry season,” she said.
Yacare caimans are a species of reptile genetically more closely related to alligators than crocodiles. Caimans have a U-shaped snout similar to alligators, while crocodiles have a V-shaped snout.
Much like alligators, caimans prefer freshwater environments. Crocodiles can thrive in both salt and fresh water.
Caimans are only found in Central and South America, and the World Wildlife Federation estimates that around 10 million live in the Pantanal.
Crocodiles are mainly found in Asia, Australia, Central America and northern South America – not in Brazil.
Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County, agreed with Strüssman, saying the “limited sunbathing opportunities” in the Pantanal, where there are many animals for yacare caimans to eat, result in huge groups like this one seen in the video.
“The area can support large numbers of caimans, but due to limited basking opportunities, high-density basking can occur,” he said.
Pauly said the area where the caimans are basking is “clearly not a Brazilian beach” near the ocean, as the post suggests. It is the shoreline of the Nabileque River; Land can be seen on both sides of the water.
An Instagram post claimed video showed a horde of crocodiles invading a Brazilian beach, causing locals to panic.
Reptile experts told PolitiFact the footage was not from a human-used beach, but from a sandy part of a wetland in Brazil. The reptiles were yacare caimans, not crocodiles. Caimans gathering in large numbers is normal and nothing to panic.
We consider this claim false.