Sunday, 22 June 2014

Crocs, People and Creek Mouths

Creek mouths are magnets for people on warm sunny day. The crab habitat gets trampled and I wonder how the crabs manage to survive.

On a sunny day, everyone is chasing fish at the creek mouth
If you are not interested in fishing, you can swim in the mud with your brothers and sisters
Sentinel crabs that share habitat with the mud-swimmers
In the search for more pristine habitat I went to another creek mouth about 50 km from Cairns to look for the  locally elusive Uca polita fiddler crab but had to rethink my plans.  There was a crocodile that was larger than my boat and faster too so I had to put some distance between it and myself.  Around the bend and about 100 m away were the weekend crab tramplers.  It is not uncommon for crocodiles to be within visual distance of people and the people to be totally unaware.  I sometimes took binoculars to a creek mouth, lay down on the sand so that I could see under the overhanging branches and looked for crocs and I would see them and nobody else was aware of their presence.  When boats approached, they would quietly slide into the water unseen and come back out when the boat moved on.  Crocs are not put off by noise and human activity.  One of the best places to see crocodiles was on the Barron River where the Cairns Airport landing lights span the river.  Screaming jets tensing up before landing would pass only tens of metres above the crocodiles.  They even nest in unlikely habitats like than.  

3.5 m croc and girl friend at creek mouth
Crocs run and jump off banks and can end up in your speed boat if you cruise at speed close to the bank - they have hit the side of my boat on a few occasions.  Years ago, when I had been padding around in the sea on a surf ski for hours, I paddled into the creek mouth shown above and up the edge of the channel to stay out of the wind.  A croc came running out of the mangroves and stopped with one foot hanging over the lip of the bank just in front of me.  On a 17 foot long surf ski, turning fast is not possible so I had to maintain my composure paddle within 2 m of a 2.5 m croc perched on the bank.  Sometimes you can even run into crocs in coastal waters.  With me it has usually been near misses caused by me surprising crocodiles.  Crocs generally avoid us but always stay on guard.  I recommend that you make an effort to see the crocodiles that share our waterways as it helps to know your potential enemy.

1 comment:

  1. The crocodile in the post above is at the Mossman River and the kids are playing on the Moon River. At the time, I did not want to say as government policy was to deplete crocodile numbers in my local area.