Third, a person at the bow of the boat uses a long pole to slip a metal snare around the neck of the caiman, and then tightens the snare by pulling on the rope it’s attached to or by yanking the pole upwards swiftly. Fourth, you hold on for dear life as the caiman thrashes around in the water, tiring itself out. Crocodilians tire relatively quickly (5 minutes or so) during bursts of intense physical activity because lactic acid, a natural by-product of cellular metabolism, builds up in their muscles and shuts them down. Human muscles also suffer from lactic acid build-up during exercise, but our muscles are able to get rid of it relatively quickly while crocodilians are stuck with it for longer periods of time because of their cold-blooded physiology. Fifth, you use a second snare to close the mouth and secure it, then you tape the mouth shut. Now you’re ready to safely handle the animal.
We ended up finding lots of interesting stuff in their stomachs, like snails, fish, seeds, and small mammals. Fish were by far the most frequently consumed type of prey, which means in the region I was in fishermen and caimans directly compete for food, at least during the dry season.