Darwin Day 2: I smiled at a crocodile – Jumping crocodile tour

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The Jumping Crocodile Tour was possibly my most-anticipated tour of my holiday.  I’ve never been very close to a croc.  Even at a zoo, the crocs are quite far away.  Knowing they were going to be just a few metres away was both scary and awe-inspiring.  Crocodiles are a big part of the Northern Territory, especially in the Top End (Darwn, Kakadu etc).  It is estimated that there are more than 80,000 crocs in the waterways.  Everyone is told not to swim in any open waters because there could be crocodiles.  Most waterholes are closed during the wet season and only open after extensive testing.  That means putting the croc traps in the rivers and waterholes to see if they catch any crocs.  Any that are caught up taken to croc farms.

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Crocodiles spend most of their time under water. Being a cold-blooded animal, they only come up to bask in the sun the warm their bodies.  During the warmer months they bury themselves in the mud on the banks of the rivers under the shade of the trees.   They are not normally seen so they get tempted out of the water by buffalo meat on the end of a long pole.  They are very careful not to feed the same crocs all the time. They don’t want them to get too used to getting an easy meal and rely on the tours as a food source.  It’s hard to believe but the tour operators know the crocs by sight and have named a lot of them.

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Our tour was on the Adelaide River.  Once we left the pier we steered to a point a few kilometres down the river, searching for crocs.  When we got on the boat we were warned to stay on the side of the boat we were sitting on.  We were warned that we would be dinner for the crocs if we all moved to one side and the boat rolled over.  That was a very sombre though so everyone was careful not to move.  To make that easier for us they would entice a croc to one side of the boat, lure it with buffalo meat and give it three chances to snatch the meat.  Whether it got the meat or not, the boat would be moved so the people on the other side of the boat could see the same process.  Once both sides saw this the boat was moved further downriver to find another croc.  The operators’ love of the crocodiles is very apparent in the care they take to protect them during the tour.

Sometimes they don’t get to see many crocs on the tours so we were very lucky to see four or five.  Including one huge one that measured about 5.5m long.  We were about to turn around and go back when he came along. You could just see his head gliding along with the rest of his body below water.

It is very thrilling to see a croc jumping vertically out of the water, revealing almost all of it’s body.  I was fascinated to think that the croc was only 1-1.5m away from me.  They are magnificent creatures.  I loved being able to see how big their jaws are and the definition of their jaws.  We were close enough to see how sharp their teeth are.  I was surprised to how few teeth they have.

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One of the crocodiles coming towards us.

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This is the Adelaide River.  It is such a picturesque area.

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The second part of the tour was Rachel feeding these birds.  I don’t know a lot of breeds of birds so I can’t remember them.  They were so majestic though.

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When we were approaching the wharf we were warned there was a female crocodile sunning herself.  We were advised not to look for her, just to get to land as quick as we could.  I didn’t see it but I certainly wasn’t going to walk slowly to find out what she would do if disturbed.

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