Crocs! High fives and hisses

Its been a croc filled fortnight. Here’s a selection of pics, stories and science from my recent enounters with these modern dinosaurs.

First to Cahills Crossing on the East Alligator River in Kakadu where we discovered a new call sign, mullet were mauled and we made a quick exit when we were hissed at by a techno croc.

This is the first time i’ve seen this behaviour so it was fortuitous that it happened when we were actually moored up against some rangers and were asking questions about croc behaviour. Initially I thought I was getting a wave from this 3 meter salty, but the rangers say he was fishing. Still I  came to the conclusion it was actually a high five between two fisherman that had found themselves on the East Alligator River – a spectacular location for a flick!

Huge mullet, like this 40cm one, were schooling around the rapids at Cahills and the oversized geckos were hooking in. This croc, maybe in a territorial mood, crossed the river to our boat and demolished the mullet right in front of us. It was pretty spectacular and one of those moments when even fishing takes a back seat while nature puts on a show.

Tired of being refered to as ‘dinosaurs’ some crocs have had GPS units fitted so they can easily get back home after a day fishing. A few even have fishfinders on order… If you want a serious answer to what’s happening here you should probably listen to what the rangers said when they told us this male croc was part of a study into their movements. He is the dominant beast on the upstream side of Cahills Crossing. The boss of downstream section wears a black version of the tracker. I’d say this guy will be in for some battles when breeding season arrives because he will need to prove his dominance against a 4.5 goliath that has just taken up residence at the boat ramp upstream.

The next encounter occurred on a section of the Katherine River that can only be accessed from a farm where I work. The rangers set a trap down there and it has been empty for a few months. On thursday my brave girlfriend and a mate, Carpo, spent the arvo flicking lures from a bathtub sized tinny in the same stretch of water. The trap was empty but when we returned the next morning to collect our forgotten fishing gear I could hear the trap being bashed from the inside by a growling and very pissed off salty.

Blood and teeth. This croc didn’t like being wrapped up by a mummy. The blood is from where he thrashed his head against the trap while the rangers subdued the pointy end with strong ropes, huge cable ties and a kilometer of duct tape. Sealy is in the background with a 30-30 ( thats a big gun!) just in case another croc was keen to help level the playing field for his trapped mate. I’m told big male crocs can hold vigil under a trap – expecially when there’s a female nearby.

Finally, I got my high five!

The feet are surprisingly soft and yet maintain that reptilian feel which has you thinking of the Jurassic era.

Wrangled! (pic by Vikki)

I’ve always respected crocs, but now im intrigued by them as well. As the ranger said, ‘the more you look at them, the more you notice’ and I’d have to agree.

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