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Last Updated: Tuesday November 15 2005 18:04 GMT

Crocodile spotted in UK waterways

Otter were among the rarer species spotted by the public
Loads of rare and exotic animals are turning up in UK canals and rivers.

A study by British Waterways discovered that seals, dolphins and even a small crocodile have all been found swimming around the country.

Hundreds of people took part in the survey, and 3,700 sightings of 60 species were reported, including rare animals like water voles and otters.

Mallards, swans, moorhens, heron and coots were the five most common species spotted on the waterways.

But lots of people also saw the non-native mink - a huge threat to endangered species such as the water vole.

Mallard 321
Swan 305
Moorhen 293
Heron 277
Coot 237
Dragonfly 215
Kingfisher 157
Water vole 122
Bat 121
Grass snake 93
Source: British Waterways
Non-native terrapins, and Chinese mitten crabs were seen too, as well as an unconfirmed crocodile sighting in Gloucestershire.

More visitors

Jonathan Brickland, British Waterways' national ecologist, said he hoped the survey results will encourage more people to visit the UK's 2,000 miles of canals and rivers.

He said some of the stranger sightings would be looked into: "Whilst we are surprised to find a crocodile and osprey listed we are not ruling these out until further investigations take place."

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