Panaji: After sending the social media in a tizzy, photos of a rare appearance of a crocodile on Goa's picturesque Morjim beach has become a much talking point for local tourism.
Photographs of the crocodile ambling on Morjim beach, popular with Russian tourists, have gone viral on the social media. Morjim beach, 30 km from Panaji, is one of the most popular beaches in the state, especially with Russians. It is colloquially referred to as 'Little Russia'. Russians account for nearly a third of the half a million foreign tourists who arrive in Goa annually.
Crocodiles are commonly found in the hinterland in marshy rivers, but there have rarely been instances of the aquatic reptiles sighted on the state's beaches, which are visited by at least three million tourists annually.
Tourism Director Ameya Abhyankar said, "Goa's beaches are safe as there is constant patrolling. The lifeguards are also vigilant to spot any untoward incidents."
A tourist official blamed a section of the media for 'blowing out of proportion' the incident.
"The national media seems to have blown the story out of proportion. They (media) ought to have heard the other side of the story before attempting to put fear in the tourists," said Francisco Braganza, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), one of the oldest groups.
Kalpesh Fondekar, manager at Pirache village eco resort in Morjim, insist that by the time Goa's tourist season starts in October, the frenzy will die down.
"It's not like there was Godzilla or a dinosaur on the beach. It was a crocodile and there have always been crocodiles in Goa's rivers. This controversy will be forgotten by the time October starts," he said.
The sandy trail left by the lone crocodile on Goa's Morjim beach may have been washed away by the torrential monsoons, but the amphibious reptile appears to have left an indelible scar on the state which banks on beach tourism for its bread and butter.