Sunday, April 14, 2013

Darwin - Part 2

14 April 2013

There Are CROCS Out There!



Yesterday, while we were happily watching the sunset, and I was freaking out about the bats, this happened - a man, watching the same sunset, was standing on a small rock, stepped into shallow water to walk over to a bigger rock (dubbed Lucky Rock), and was attacked by a croc.  It's estimated to be about a meter long croc, so it didn't bite off his leg.  Or pull him into the water for the death roll.  No, it only bit his leg in several places, raked its teeth down his leg as he was pulled into his boat, and pretty much injured his leg.  Plus, according to the article, crocs carry some nasty bacteria in their mouths and can cause some major infections.  So even though it was a young croc, it wreaked a fair amount of havoc, all by itself.

 There are DAILY reports in the paper about crocodiles - we've been here for five days, and every day we've seen a headline (usually on the front of the paper) about crocs.  Photos of the 4.25 meter croc who was caught.  Stories about the 3 meter (or so) croc lurking around a picnic area on some island nearby.  Crocs caught on roads.  Crocs hanging around schools.  It goes on and on.  The dog-eating croc.  The little boy who was disappeared by a croc (not a Sandinista) last year.

And people who live here say, "Well, that's normal around here.  Just part of living here."  Uh huh.  Can you imagine living in a place where 9 to 15 foot people-eating crocodiles are normal???  Ack!!!!

So of course I paid (with my Fourteen Lions money) to go to the Crocosaurus crocodile and reptile house.  I mean, if you can't beat them, join them, right??? 

There are the giant crocs, like Buddy (or was his name Buster?) who was the co-star in the "Crocodile Dundee" movies - at 5.1 meters (about 16 feet) he's a biggy!  He had a few friends in there too, close to his size, but they all had their own tanks.  Because male crocs don't  exactly get along with each other.  They're very competitive.  In fact, a few of the crocs are in there because they were injured in the wild by fighting with other males - one is blind, one is missing his two front feet.  Things like that.  These aren't really croc disabilities, because these are huge mean animals, and they could still survive in the wild.  But they wouldn't be able to fight other competitors as easily, so they're now in the croc house.  

There are also over 100 young crocs - I have no idea how old they are, but they were roughly 2 to 4 feet long - .6 to 1.3 meters.  Or so.  All in one huge tank.  After the demonstration of feeding the big crocs, we visitors had the chance to feed the youngsters.  This is referred to as "croc fishing" - because saltwater crocodiles naturally jump out of the water to catch some of their prey.  Bats, birds, things like that.  (One lady on the train told us she saw a huge croc leap up and pull a horse into the water.  Yes, an entire full-grown horse.  Horse disappeared, never to be seen again.  Trust me, I'm not swimming anywhere but the pool while we're here!) 

Anyway, so the purpose of croc fishing is to entertain the crocs, give them exercise, let them keep up with their natural skills.  And to entertain the visitors, and give us an up-close-and-personal croc experience.

It was pretty exciting - we go out onto a little dock floating on the water, and are told to keep  our hands by our sides and/or inside the railing.  (Apparently the little guys sometimes jump up and bite people in their excitement.)  We're given fishing poles with raw meat on un-barbed fishing hooks.  We dangle the meat over the crocs, and let them leap up and either grab or, if we're mean, we pull the meat up and they miss.  And, when they get the meat, we get to pull and tug so they get some exercise, and eventually we get the hook back out.  Exciting!  And amazing how strong the little crocs are!

Then - the piéce de resistance (and sorry for the accent going in the wrong direction, such is an American computer) - the Cage of Death!!!!  This is a plexiglass cage that people go in, and then it's lowered into a tank with one of these giant crocs.  People PAY to do this!  Then the staff feed the crocs right by the cage, so the crocs are lunging at and around the cage - essentially lunging at the people!  Yeah, I didn't do that.  I really don't need to have crocs lunging at me.  It's probably something I'd rather not have happen, in fact.  But it made for good photos watching other people in there!

There was also one man swimming in a tank sans croc - not sure what he was doing in there, but he was swimming back and forth, with his friends on the outside taking photos and talking to him.  Then he pretended he was a croc himself, using his arms to make the big snapping motion as he jumped up and fell into the water, just like the big and little crocs feeding.  Of course, everyone who saw this nearly fell over laughing, he was so funny playing crocodile in the tank!!!  (And this wasn't a 20-something guy, he probably was closer to 40, which made it really funny!)  He and his friends are Aussies, so I asked about the bats - they told me these are the flying foxes, not fruit bats - we had a nice little chat between cracking up about their crazy friend.

I'm hoping we see some crocs when we're out exploring - but I also hope we aren't anywhere near this close to any of them!

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures!!! I don't think I'd want to get too close to those crocs.