Tuesday 27 September 2016

Crocodiles gather for all-you-can-eat banquet in Australia's Northern Territory

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 18/09/2015 | 15:40

A saltwater crocodile
A saltwater crocodile

Approximately 40 saltwater crocodiles have gathered for a group fishing session near Kakadu in Australia's Northern Territory.

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The reptiles have congregated at a river crossing named Cahill's Crossing for an all-you-can-eat banquet, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The practice known as 'floating fish behaviour' refers to the congregation of crocs of all sizes who meet at the river crossing to take advantage of the shoals of fish swimming upstream in the tide.

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"It's a bit like salmon in Canada," said Charlie Manolis​, chief scientist at Wildlife Management International and Crocodylus​ Park.

"At the moment the way the tides are, with mullet coming upstream you're seeing congregations of salties, especially around Cahill's crossing where 30, 40, 50 come together for this event, which really coincides with the warmer weather."

The intelligent creatures gather where they know swarms of fish will be plentiful, using their front claws with palms outstretched to try and catch fish.

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Mr Manolis describes the action as, "like you're trying to corral something with your arms. The fish will hit their arms and they try and eat them."

"But people should not put themselves at risk in those sorts of areas, even if there is only one. They should stand back on the bank and they can observe this stuff till the cows come home," he added.

Crocodile populations in Australia's Northern Territory have resurged since conservation efforts were put in place to protect the animal.

Local experts estimate there are 100,000 or more in the wild, compared to the 3000 that existed in 1971 when crocodile protection began.

Mr Manolis said the mood around crocodile risk varies greatly.

"Generally when there's an attack there's always, I think, a portion of the public who feel they can't do what they used to do 20 years ago, like swim in certain places … but really, it's a public education thing."

A recent inquest into the death of Bill Scott (62) who was attacked by a crocodile at Kakadu last year found that people in boats are still not safe from the reptiles.

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