Police issue warning after 'rare' crocodile sighting at fishing spot

Police in WA have reminded locals and travellers to stay vigilant after a saltwater crocodile was spotted sunbaking in Karratha on Monday.

The croc was snapped on the banks of Airport Creek in the the Pilbara Region known to be frequented by fisherman. Police alerted the public after wildlife officials issued a warning on Facebook, telling residents and visitors to be "croc aware".

Saltwater crocodiles are larger and more aggressive than their freshwater counterparts.

It is relatively uncommon to see crocs in the area. Source: Parks and Wildlife Service, Pilbara
It is relatively uncommon to see crocs in the area. Source: Parks and Wildlife Service, Pilbara

"Crocodiles are dangerous and attacks can be fatal," the Pilbara Parks and Wildlife Service said.

"Don’t ever become complacent. Populations of humans and crocodiles are higher than ever leading to more frequent encounters."

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions was said to be monitoring the reptile.

According to Perth Now, the sight of a saltwater crocodile in the area is a "rare event".

"What surprised me was the crock being that far south," one person commented on Facebook.

But crocodile populations have been exploding in recent decades in northern Australia.

Saltwater crocodiles were declared a protected species since the early 1970s after decades of unregulated hunting had driven down their numbers across the Kimberley and the Northern Territory to less than 8,000, according to Western Australian Marine Science Institution.

Today there are more than 100,000 crocodiles in the Northern Territory. Crocodile abundance has also increased across the Kimberley region, north of the Pilbara, but not to the degree seen in the NT.

A NSW family recently shared their experience with Yahoo of encountering a croc at a popular tourist spot in the NT where there are fears it's a matter of time before a tourist falls victim to an attack.

Meanwhile earlier this month, a Queensland man warned about the dangers of swimming in a popular river in Cape York, sharing a photo showing a crocodile lurking just below the water's surface where a family was cooling off. A three year study culminating in 2021 found there were about 30,000 mature crocodiles in the state.

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