Friday, 6 October 2017


Miles here, At Gary's anchorage on Fraser Island we saw a sign that said Beware of Crocodiles.  Really?  Crocs at Frasers, that is sobering. Crocs are 200 million years old and unchanged in that time; they outlasted the dinosaurs which left 65 million years ago.  Of the 23 species none have been driven to extinction - I guess if you can survive a global dinosaur extinction you can deal with just about anything the humans might cause.

The ready supply of .303 rifles post World War II and the soaring price of crocodile skins created an opportunity for a classic breed of maverick adventurer croc hunters.  By the 1960's reports were that it was hard to find a crocodile just about anywhere.  The Territory and Western Australia imposed bans in the 1960s, and Sir Joh held out in Queensland until 1974 when both species of crocodile (saltwater and freshwater) were declared protected.

The Kimberley mob are very familiar with salties; the locals report increasing numbers of interactions, and it now seems almost common for crocs to be bumping and biting tinnies.  They're pushing higher into Katherine Gorge, and are happy to live in fresh water all year around.

I find it amusing (and scary) that our conservation efforts which are often motivated by an ideal of making nature more beautiful and more abundant, could lead to nature also becoming significantly more dangerous.  Similarly I wonder if the increase of shark attacks is caused by the protection of great white sharks and the ban of whaling - an abundance of both predator and prey.  

Of course there are also significantly more humans, (14 million in 1974 and 24million now) pushing more into remote parts and it could just be that there are more interactions.

I suspect that there will be a line of tolerance for crocodiles; they're at Fraser, which is not far from Double Island Point, which is not far from Noosa.  Global warming could assist that southwards migration.   No Crocs in Noosa might see the reinstatement of crocodile safari hunting.

At Yeppoon, Reminy pushed Budi into the marina (apparently he was asking for it).  I had thought about paddle boarding around the berths, to the wonderful looking fish market on the other side of our berth.  The photographs of a crocodile in the marina in 2014 stopped all that and made Budi turn white thinking about his recent dip.

We decided that some family education was required.  School would be science and science would be a trip to the local croc farm.   The tour was impressive, the employees were very experienced and their knowledge and love of crocs was more than enough of an education for us all.    However, I suspect a trip to the hatchery and abattoir sections of the farm (out of bounds) would have changed the experience greatly.  The crocs are farmed for skins, and are sold to Louis Vetton for $7000 a skin.  It is a market into which they cannot supply enough skins.  We didn't find out how many they kill a year, but they hatch several thousand every season, so I assume it is a lot.   The ethics are murky, and the kids found it as conflicting as we did.  However, there was no denying (excuse my frothy cliche) the awesome power of these animals.    Enjoy Budi's film.

1 comment:

  1. We must have lived in Far North Queensland during a crocodilian pause...
    Camping in places like the mouth of the Daintree, we heard crocodiles, and saw tracks, but nobody got eaten.
    Couldn't camp that way now
    (We also blithely believed a few myths: salties weren't in fresh water, and they wouldn't go up over a rock bar...)
    But like I said, nobody got eaten!