Tourists astonished by crocodiles' clever act at famous tourist hotspot

Several people said it looked like the saltwater crocodiles were reaching out for 'cuddles'.

People are in awe over an “amazing” photo of two saltwater crocodiles performing a “clever” fishing technique at the famous tourist hotspot Cahills Crossing.

The image taken in the Kakadu National Park, NT, shows the crocs with their heads and claws partially out of the water and their arms stretched out wide. They appear to be still in the rushing water.

“Salties doing that thing with their legs to trap fish spawn and hope bigger fish come to eat it. Apparently, they only do this in this particular area,” the man who captured the moment posted on a Facebook group dedicated to the reptiles.

The two saltwater crocodiles with their arms stretched out on the surface at Cahills Crossing.
Two saltwater crocodiles were seen using the 'cross posture' technique to trap food at Cahills Crossing. Source: Facebook

Cross posture: Fishing technique only used by salties

While numerous Aussies shared their astonishment at the tactic, which many said looked like the crocodiles were reaching out for “cuddles”, it’s “the most frequently observed fishing technique seen in the NT due to the sheer number of crocs that congregate at Cahill’s to fish,” David White with Solar Whisper Daintree River Crocodile and Wildlife Cruises told Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday.

The surface fishing technique called “cross posture” is only seen in saltwater crocs and involves them sticking their arms out when there’s an abundance of fish, or other prey like small prawns. “As prey strike their outspread arms, they feel it and turn their head and grab it,” David said, explaining that it was first described in caimans — a type of crocodilian in South America in 1999 — and in the salties in NT since 2013.

A car passing a fisherman preparing to cast his net at Cahills Crossing on the East Alligator River in the world heritage site of Kakadu National Park.
Cahills Crossing on the East Alligator River is popular with locals, tourists, and fishermen. Source: Getty Images

The local said it was believed only adult crocs do “cross posture” until David himself witnessed hatchlings using the tactic to catch food. “On the Daintree we observe hatchlings only doing this technique if there’s a lot of prey, so I don’t believe it’s a learned behaviour but rather in their genes,” he said.

David said he was able to take video footage of the hatchlings and submitted his records to the Crocodile Specialist Group, with the findings published in one of their newsletters.

Crocodiles' behaviour surprises Aussies

Crocodile fans were quick to share the Facebook photo, saying they had “never seen it before”. “Wow! Amazing! Love this!” one social media user commented, as another said it looked like the crocs were drying their nails. “They’re only asking for hugs,” someone else wrote.

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