Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
- The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland that stretches across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. It’s nowhere near a beach with open seawater.
- Yacare caiman is a species of reptile related to alligators that are native to the Pantanal. Large groups of caiman commonly bask together in the sun.
- Crocodiles are native to northern South America and are not found in Brazil.
A video featuring hundreds of reptiles sunning themselves on a shoreline is being characterized on Instagram as a giant horde of crocodiles that have terrorized Brazilians.
"In Brazil, an invasion of crocodiles that have flooded one of the beaches with several hundred, and even thousands, and the local population is panicking," the video’s caption says.
The Instagram user credits the video and caption to a radio host’s Twitter account.
Although the footage does appear to be from Brazil, herpetologists we talked to say the reptiles in the video aren’t crocodiles and locals aren’t panicking about their presence.
The Instagram post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, owns Instagram. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Dr. Christine Strüssmann, a professor of veterinary medicine at the Federal University of Mato Grosso in Brazil, said the video was taken several weeks ago in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland.
It’s unknown where the footage originated, but one of the earliest uploads came from Pantanal Pesca, a Brazilian fishing store, which shared the video Aug. 25.
A man could be heard in the video saying in Portuguese that the reptiles were in a part of the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, a state of Brazil.
The Pantanal covers more than 42 million acres in South America. Although a bulk of the wetland is in Brazil, it also stretches into Bolivia and Paraguay, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
The creatures in the video are yacare caiman, not crocodiles, Strüssman said.
"It is very common to have high densities of caimans at this time of year in the dry season," She said.
Yacare caiman are a species of reptile more genetically related to alligators than crocodiles. Caimans have a u-shaped snout similar to alligators, whereas crocodiles have v-shaped snouts.
Like alligators, caimans prefer freshwater environments. Crocodiles can thrive in both salt and freshwater.
Caimans are found only in Central and South America, and the World Wildlife Federation estimates around 10 million of them live within the Pantanal.
Crocodiles are found primarily in Asia, Australia, Central America and northern South America — not Brazil.
Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County, agreed with Strüssman, saying the "limited basking opportunities" in the Pantanal, where there are plenty of animals for yacare caimans to eat, result in huge groups like the one seen in the video.
"The area can support a large number of caiman, but because of the limited basking opportunities, you can end up with high-density basking aggregations," he said.
Pauly said the area where the caimans are basking is "clearly not a Brazilian beach" near the ocean, as the post implies. It’s the shoreline of the Nabileque River; land can be seen along both sides of the water.
An Instagram post claimed a video showed a horde of crocodiles invading a Brazilian beach, causing locals to panic.
Reptile experts told PolitiFact the footage was not from a beach used by humans but of a sandy portion of wetland in Brazil. The reptiles were yacare caimans, not crocodiles. Caimans congregating in huge numbers is normal and not a cause for panic.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram video on Sep. 16, 2022
Archive of Sept. 16, 2022 Instagram video
Ken Rutkowski, Tweet, Sept. 15, 2022
Archive of Sept. 15, 2022 tweet
Email with Christine Strüssmann, professor of veterinary medicine at the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Sept. 21, 2022
Email with Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County, Sept. 19, 2022
Instagram video, Aug. 25, 2022
World Wildlife Fund, "5 Interesting Facts About The Pantanal, The World's Largest Tropical Wetland," accessed Sept. 19, 2022
Britannica, Caiman, accessed Sept. 19, 2022
Britannica, Crocodile, accessed Sept. 21, 2022
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.