Director of National Parks
Near miss in Kakadu - be croc-wise this barra run-off
12 January 2012
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A near-miss incident involving a four metre crocodile on the South Alligator River has prompted Kakadu National Park to remind fishermen to be croc-wise during this barramundi run-off season.
A fisherman went very close to losing his arm when the four metre saltie launched itself out of the water and grabbed a small barramundi off his line. The angler was attempting to pull the fish into the boat without a landing net.
"No matter how small the fish, anglers should always use a long-handled landing net to bring fish in," Kakadu's crocodile management officer Garry Lindner said.
"And when releasing a fish, you should carefully 'spear' it back into the water, head-first, keeping your hands well clear of the water."
Mr Lindner said crocodiles have very acute sensory receptors on their heads that allow them to pinpoint splashing or movement in the water.
"Crocs are very tuned into distressed fish splashing in the water or flapping on the ground or in a boat - it's a signal there's a potential meal," he said. "They'll watch and wait ready to grab. That's why you should never revive a fish by cradling it in the water - there may well be a croc waiting underneath your boat."
Although park rangers do regular crocodile patrols, Mr Lindner said that they also rely on fishermen to report croc-related incidents. Anyone who encounters a croc displaying confronting behaviour on the water or at boat ramps should immediately contact Park Headquarters on 8938 1100.
- It's against the law to clean or bleed fish in or near the water's edge, as crocs begin to associate boats with a free meal. Use the fish cleaning facilities near the park's boat ramps instead. Clean boats regularly to avoid build-up of fishy smells.
- Take extreme care at boat ramps when launching and retrieving, and be extra vigilant when fishing from riverbanks, creek crossings or culverts. These spots are known to attract crocs.
- Always keep a safe distance from the water. Just because you can't see a crocodile doesn't mean there isn't one there.
- When fishing at night use bright lights to scan the area for potential danger. Use peripheral lighting that shines out from your boat. Avoid internal lighting - it increases visibility for the crocodile of activity inside the boat and at the same time reduces fishermen's vision of croc movements on the surrounding water.
Media contact: Margot Marshall 0418 624 847
For more information visit environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu