Lonely Planet Writer

Five hours to catch a croc on tourist beach in Queensland

State environment workers who wrangled a saltwater crocodile from a tourist beach in Queensland have described him as a “macho dude”.

A salt water crocodile on the Adelaide river.
A salt water crocodile on the Adelaide river. Image by thinboyfatter / CC BY 2.0

It took environment workers, police officers and volunteers five overnight hours to capture the croc, measuring 4.7 meters (over 15 feet). The croc has just one eye and three teeth and is believed to be around 50 years old. It was captured on a beach known as the Strand, near the Townsville Casino, after being spotted the previous day on a beach 9 km north of town. It will be kept in a pond until a new home is found for it in a crocodile farm or zoo.

Freshwater and saltwater crocodiles – colloquially known in Australia as ‘freshies’ and ‘salties’ – are found in the country’s northern coastal waters from Broome in Western Australia to Rockhampton in Queensland. While freshies rarely cause fatalities and tend to attack only in self-defense, salties are described as hypercarnivorous, apex, ambush predators. They can survive in both salt and fresh water and, though territorial, take advantage of seasonal floods to roam further afield. Also found throughout South-East Asia and on India’s eastern coast, salties are the world’s largest reptiles, reaching up to six meters (20 feet) in length.

Australian state and territory government policy is to remove and relocate salties whose movements threaten humans. In 2015, wildlife rangers in Australia’s Northern Territory removed 290 salties from various rivers, harbours and waterholes, up on the previous two years but below the record of 318 crocs relocated in 2012. All but 38 were found in the Darwin region, the Territory’s capital city. The Territory’s ‘Crocwise’ campaign seeks to educate locals and visitors alike about appropriate behaviours near crocodile habitats.