Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jumping Crocs

We took the Arnhem Highway east from Darwin towards Jabiru in Kakadu National Park.  Before we reached the park's borders, we stopped at the Adelaide River for a cruise with jumping crocodiles!

The cruise lured the wild saltwater crocs near the boat and enticed them to propel themselves out of the water to reach the pig bait.  To be fair, the crocs don't actually "jump," but the power behind these animals was incredible.  In some ways, this behavior mimics the way salties attack prey at the riverside in a lightning-quick powerful lunge.  The ability to thrust a huge body (the largest was about 15 feet long and estimated at 1500 lbs) out of the water was amazing.

The staff would encourage each croc to make 2-3 "jumps" and then give them the small chunk of pork.  We would then move on and allow the next croc to approach the boat.  They stated that they tried to feed each saltie only once a day.

Each croc was recognizable to the staff and had a name.  There was Bogart, the huge dominant male; Anna, an older female; Flapjack, Fang, and Roscoe, the resident rogue males; and Dusty, a female that was too busy sunning herself to be bothered with lunch.

These salties are amazing creatures.  They can live for over 70 years and the females continue breeding until death.  They can stay submerged for up to 4 hours without another breath.  Even though they are referred to as saltwater crocs, they can live in freshwater and are often found far inland.  (A large croc was recently trapped and removed from Donkey Camp near Katherine, over 300km from the ocean)  The dominant males have survived multiple fights with other males and are often scarred and missing limbs.

The cruise finished with feeding Whistling Kites and Black Kites bits of leftover pork.  Another incredible experience downunder!

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