A fisherman has made a shocking discovery while cleaning up rubbish from the Murray River on the NSW and Victorian border.
Brent Lodge was fishing with his dad near the town of Barham, NSW, on Saturday and noticed the large amount of rubbish in the river.
So on Sunday before flying back to the Gold Coast, where he now lives, he threw the boat in the water to collect as much rubbish as he could.
And that’s when he saw what he thought was a big log.
“It had heaps of rubbish around it, it just looked like a big dead Murray Cod,” he explained in a video posted to his Instagram account.
“Then I thought it was a goanna because of its legs.”
When he got closer, he managed to pull it out of the water and realised it appeared to be a freshwater crocodile.
“I dragged it to the bank and that’s when I saw it had a hook in its mouth,” he said.
“It looks like someone had taken its skin.”
Mr Lodge told Yahoo News Australia that some of his mates thought he was stitching everybody up with the video, but he swears it shows an honest discovery.
He doesn’t know what happened to the roughly six-foot-long animal but it appears to have had a majority of its skin completely removed.
“I did not put the crocodile there,” he said.
Nor did he skin the animal. “I don’t even know how to fillet a fish,” he joked online.
He dragged it to shore and found it had a sizeable hook in its mouth.
Mr Lodge says he has reported the find to the NSW Department of Parks and Wildlife.
NSW police told Yahoo News that no one had referred the matter to them.
Unusual place to find a crocodile
Crocodiles would not naturally appear in the Murray Darling river basin, where it is too cold for them.
“Like their saltwater cousins, Australian freshwater crocodiles are restricted to the northern parts of Australia, from about Gladstone in the east to around Broome in the west,” crocodile expert from the University of Queensland, Dr Steven Salisbury, told Yahoo News Australia.
“There are no recorded natural occurrences of Australian freshwater crocodiles in South East Queensland or North Eastern NSW.”
The Murray is a huge river system so it could have floated from much further up north.
Even if the crocodile was dumped in the region while it was alive, it would be unlikely to survive in the winter months, Dr Salisbury said.
“It would probably survive through the summer months, but in winter things would probably get a bit too cold in and it wouldn’t fare so well.”
On Mr Lodge’s social media posts, friends have speculated about the origins of the grisly find.
“They think someone dumped it after catching and skinning it somewhere else,” wrote one person.
Another speculated that the animal had been stolen for its skin.
“It’s bit of a shame really that he ended up like this,” Mr Lodge wrote.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted NSW Fisheries and the Federal Department of Environment for comment.
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