Have crocodiles turned up in the Caspian Sea, the world's largest landlocked body of water? No, that's not true: The video on TikTok that makes this claim uses footage of a crocodile filmed in Australia. Crocodiles cannot survive the relatively cool temperatures of the Caspian Sea, bordered by the non-tropical countries of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.
Crocodiles or alligators have appeared in the Caspian Sea
This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of the writing of this fact check:
(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Apr 27 16:47:12 2023 UTC)
As of April 28, 2023, this video was trending in the Russian-speaking segment of TikTok (here or here). One Kazakh-language version of the video about a "Caspian" crocodile had been viewed more than a million times.
But this video was not filmed in the Caspian Sea. The footage was shot in Australia in mid-March 2023. Australian naturalist David McMahon filmed the crocodile on the coast of Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory. McMahon posted the footage on his Instagram account; an article about the encounter from The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, also featured the footage.
McMahon commented on his Instagram account:
Note I've worked closely with crocodiles both in the wild and captivity and although I'm not as close as it looks in this video, you should never let a Croc get anywhere near you.
Crocodiles' confirmed population sites are in Africa, Asia and Australia, thousands of miles away from the Caspian Sea, as this National Geographic map shows. Though crocodiles can travel across oceans, they have no natural way to travel to the landlocked Caspian Sea from these habitats.
Nor is the Caspian a desirable climate for crocodiles. Their "preferred body temperature" is 30 to 33 degrees Celsius (86 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the Crocodile Specialist Group, an international network of experts. The Caspian Sea's mean annual temperature can vary depending on location, but does not rise above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), the environmental data site GRIND-Arendal reports.