Be Crocodile Wise in Australia
by: Jamie Stone
Many people have a lot to learn about the dangers of a saltwater crocodile while visiting northern areas of Australia. Many encounters are unintentional and often the results are devastating if not fatal. People should learn more about the crocodile, where they breed, how to spot for signs of crocodile, their most active periods of the year and general safety when camping near water. The following information is to help people realize the dangers of swimming in northern Australian waters.
Many accidents can be avoided with increased awareness.
It's common name, the Saltwater Crocodile, is also known as the Estuarine Crocodile and 'Saltie'. They are found around the coast of Australia anywhere north of the Tropic of Capricorn and inland for up to 100 kms or more. They are the world's largest reptile and have a closing jaw pressure of around 3000 pounds per square inch.
Saltwater crocodile attacks DO happen in Australia on a regular basis, though the majority of attacks occur mainly on cattle and wildlife. Any stories you hear about these creatures stalking other animals and humans, about their size and their strength is probably NOT exaggerated. Many deaths to people have happened over the years due to them not taking the threat seriously enough and ignoring warning signs.
Always read the "observe crocodile warning signs", these are to be taken seriously! They are erected in that particular area where a crocodile is frequently spotted and could still be living or even breeding in that area. These signs are there to warn the people of the risk and should never be ignored!
Just because you don't see a crocodile doesn't mean it's not there!
Their breeding season is from September to May and the warmer weather makes the cold-blooded animals even faster. Be particularly careful at night! A breeding mother is more aggressive, guarding it's eggs until they hatch. The nests are made from plant matter and mud, and usually found above tide level. Keep this in mind when setting up camp or just exploring the bush.
Avoid places where animals or cattle drink. That's where a crocodile would be waiting for an opportunity to attack. Saltwater crocodiles are very conservative with their energy. They stalk their prey and hide underwater and wait to pounce. A crocodile you can see is less dangerous than one you can't see, so stay well away from the water's edge even if you are camping, fishing or just going for an evening walk.
Crocodiles can launch out of the water; never stand on logs overhanging water and always keep your arms and legs inside a boat when fishing.
No warning signs? DO NOT SWIM no matter how hot or inviting the conditions may be. The "saltie" is mostly found in saltwater, but they are also found in freshwater rivers, billabongs and swamps. Consider swimming in any northern waters dangerous regardless if there is a sign or not!
A crocodile sliding into the water from a river bank will leave a characteristic mark; keep this in mind when setting up camp! Never clean fish at the water's edge or discard fish scraps in the water. Most important if camping always keep the camp site clean and free from food scraps and any smelly fish bait. Remember crocodiles are most active at night, food scraps and fish bait left outside your camp site can invite a hungry crocodile and a shocking midnight scare.
Adult males can reach sizes of up to 6 or 7 metres (20 to 23 feet).
Maximum weight varies, but has been known to exceed 1,000 kg in 18 to 19 foot adults. 5 metre adults are closer to 400 to 500 kg.
One of the largest crocodile ever recorded in Australia was 8 metres 64cm (28ft 4 inches) shot by Krystina Pawloski on the Norman River in North Queensland in 1957. Never torment or provoke a crocodile. They are a protected animal to stop poaching and should always be left alone.
Always remain crocodile wise when traveling to northern parts of Australia and always keep the previous information in mind to avoid any tragedies or loss of life.
Be safe and enjoy your trip!
About The Author
Australian Freelance Writer