How NOT to behave around a crocodile
April 2, 2024 9:36 PM   Subscribe

How NOT to behave around a crocodile. In areas where it's possible that there are crocodiles, authorities say that you should stay at least 5 metres (16 feet) from the water’s edge. This man is standing IN the water and fishing with a fishing rod, with his back to a crocodile that is on a sandbank right behind him. Incidents like this frustrate wildlife management authorities, who would prefer humans not get injured or killed, but would also prefer not to have to kill crocodiles that could have been left alone if humans had behaved safely around them. There has been some talk of making deliberately dangerous behaviour around crocodiles a fine-able offence.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shyeah, like we're going to take safety advice from someone whose chariot is pulled by cassowaries..

You would think that people wouldn't need to be told to be sensible around large crocodilians but sometimes one gets distracted or makes poor choices. I know this from personal experience.. years ago, on a visit to a family member who was living in Louisiana at the time, I made a side trip to a lake in the Atchafalaya Basin country that was famous for two things - its heron rookery and supposedly having the largest alligators in Louisiana. I set out on foot along the trail atop the levee that ringed most of the lake and for the first hour or so I was on high alert for gators. Didn't see a single one, though I'd occasionally startle a skink in the grass and be startled in return until I could determine that it was a much more harmless reptile than the ones for which I was being hypervigilant. Hypervigilance can't last, however, and by hour two I was letting down my guard. I had also reached the end of the lake with the heron rookery and it was incredible - thousands, tens of thousands, possibly more - wading birds of all sorts. There were herons, spoonbills, ibises, etc.. With my eyes glued to the fantastic variety of avian life perched on the bare branches of cypress trees rising out the lake, I continued striding along the clear and level levee-top path until CRASH! ROAR! SMACK! an explosion of noise occurred right in front of me. It seems I had come within a stride and a half of walking straight onto a 14-foot gator sunning itself on the levee and the animal was so nonplused by this idiot trying to walk on top of it that it launched itself off the levee and into the water where it turned and showed an intimidating quantity of teeth. I quickly realized that the reason I hadn't seen any gators for the first hour of my hike were that they were all down at the end of the lake that had the all-you-can-eat heron buffet - or so I presumed, because I saw half a dozen other specimens after that first one I almost stepped on.

So I'm just saying you might think this kind of safety advice should go without saying but, well, (sheepish shrug..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:43 PM on April 2 [24 favorites]


DEAR SAILING LA VAGABONDE…

(For future readers scratching their heads: the thumbnail on their latest video has their kids within arms lengths of a crocodile)
posted by Ryvar at 12:43 AM on April 3


Timor-Leste floats on the back of a crocodile, and back during its independence movement, there were stories of how crocodiles would refuse to eat the bodies of nuns murdered by the Indonesian forces, and instead nudge them to shore to bear witness to the atrocities. I was once taken to a spot where this happened and was told that the crocodiles were still here, and were well respected. I looked around nervously and 'oh, just there,' said my guide carelessly, gesturing behind me. There was indeed a crocodile, a very large one, with sleepy eyes and the charactertistic lazy grin, about a metre behind me. 'Not to worry, they only eat the wicked,' he said, but nevertheless I backed away and then dove into the car, for fear of any misunderstanding on this point.
posted by tavegyl at 12:56 AM on April 3 [10 favorites]


Clearly, the answer is trapping, neutering, shots, and release of offending humans into the care of zoos or farms where they can lead productive lives that don’t endanger wildlife.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:51 AM on April 3 [16 favorites]


I still remember the crazy eyes of a croc attack survivor from this 60 Minutes Australia piece. Never the same, I'd imagine.
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:45 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


One more: Riding in a chain link basket suspended by a helicopter to find and harvest croc eggs in Kakadu. Crazy ass Aussies. Top Enders are something else.
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:49 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


At least 5 metres? I'll be in a neighbouring state.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:08 AM on April 3 [5 favorites]


If I have any authority on a national or global level, I would seriously consider putting a rule in place that dangerous animals that kill or harm a human who is not taking any precautions to prevent interaction would not be euthanized. If you stand between a black bear and her cubs in a national park and get mauled, that's on you. If you let your tiny dog run loose in your back yard that backs up to an alligator infested canal and it gets eaten, that's your problem. If you fish next to a crocodile and get eaten, well, that's not the croc's fault. If you try to take a selfie with a bison in Yellowstone and get trampled, well maybe you should read the signs.

I think it's our responsibilities as humans to do what we can to mitigate our interaction with dangerous animals, especially since we have done so very much to reduce their habitat that you have to actually work to be around some of these animals. It exhausts and saddens me to have put animals down for just doing animal things because people are too stupid to realize that you really, really shouldn't poke a bear.
posted by teleri025 at 7:37 AM on April 3 [13 favorites]


"If I have any authority on a national or global level, I would seriously consider putting a rule in place that dangerous animals that kill or harm a human who is not taking any precautions to prevent interaction would not be euthanized."

We should be thanking those animals for handing out Darwin Awards...
posted by schyler523 at 7:56 AM on April 3 [5 favorites]


I was in Payne’s Prairie in Gainesville one day, an alligator paradise. There are alligator warning signs *everywhere*. I was walking out by the wet prairie and saw a young woman having a really intense conversation on a cellphone, pacing back and forth, no more than three feet away from an 11-foot alligator, completely oblivious. I walked over, tagged her arm and pointed at the gator while pulling her away, because she was completely freaking out once she saw it. Where there’s alligator signs, there’s alligators.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:56 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Clearly, the answer is trapping, neutering, shots, and release of offending humans into the care of zoos or farms where they can lead productive lives that don’t endanger wildlife.

Jonathan Swift would like a word with you.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:37 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Gators aren't the main reason I left Florida, but they're definitely a reason.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:40 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately, you cannot educate the entire public on safety. Here in Oregon people get lost in the woods and die, get drowned by sneaker waves, or crushed by logs on the beach. "Never turn your back on the ocean", we say. At Yellowstone National Park, idiots routinely provocate bison, fall into boiling hot springs, fall off cliffs, or become a bear snack.
posted by neuron at 11:53 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Doesn't this safety advice seem incredibly overcautious and disproportionate? 'Do not ever come within 15ft of the water' is only a few steps away from a blanket 'remain indoors.'
posted by kickingtheground at 2:01 PM on April 3


15 feet from the water is, like, two basketball players away (or two standard uncles and their short cousin if you wish). That's not much distance, if the water in question is known to house gators or crocs.
posted by elkevelvet at 3:21 PM on April 3 [5 favorites]


Doesn't this safety advice seem incredibly overcautious and disproportionate? 'Do not ever come within 15ft of the water' is only a few steps away from a blanket 'remain indoors.'

The advice is do not ever come within 15 feet of water that has a reasonable chance of housing crocodiles.

Not all water has crocodiles (you have to be far enough North that it doesn't get too cold).

But if water DOES have crocodiles, and you get within 15 feet of the water's edge, you are well within lunging-distance.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 5:54 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


teleri025: I'd go farther than that. Unless a specific animal has shown a repeated tendency to attack human beings, it should be illegal to euthanize it. Trap and relocate only.

It's absolutely not nature's fault that human beings won't leave the rest of it alone.
posted by adrienneleigh at 6:05 PM on April 3 [4 favorites]


Also, a PSA: alligators and crocodiles are shockingly fast over short distances, even on land. (Sprint speed for large crocodilians is approximately 30-35 km/h, or 18-22mph, depending on species). 15ft is only sufficient distance if you're alert and able to run!
posted by adrienneleigh at 6:08 PM on April 3 [7 favorites]


Doesn't this safety advice seem incredibly overcautious and disproportionate?

Nope. Lived in croc country my whole life. When in croc country – in this case the entire tropical north of Australia – the rule is:

STAY AWAY FROM THE WATER.

Also, don't keep going to the same place at the water. Crocs are smart ambush predators, and can out wait you every time.

There are occasional exceptions, like up on high plateau country where crocs cannot get access. But even there you should always check with (responsible) locals first.

Those croc warning signs all over the place here are not a cute joke to give tourists a thrill.

Plus, 15 ft is not enough. And certainly don't camp within 100 yards.
posted by Pouteria at 6:22 PM on April 3 [11 favorites]


Podcast: How I Survived, "I wrestled a CROCODILE for 25 minutes." It sounds really traumatizing. (Edit: seems like the same guy in the 60 minutes link above)
posted by slidell at 6:30 PM on April 3


Pouteria: Yeah, i have no experience with crocs but alligators are pretty similar in most salient respects, and they aren't bright creatures in general but they are very, very good at being ambush predators. (And, being not-very-bright, they are not even a little bit afraid of human beings, which makes them even more dangerous.) And, again, probably faster than you over short distances! This is really important! Somehow the common imagination is that they're fast in the water but slow on land and that is just not true at all!
posted by adrienneleigh at 6:35 PM on April 3 [6 favorites]


Doesn't this safety advice seem incredibly overcautious and disproportionate?

On the Internet, no-one knows you’re a croc.
posted by zamboni at 2:45 AM on April 4 [4 favorites]


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