A short video of a crocodile struggling to free itself from fishing gear sparked an hours-long rescue operation.
Concerns were raised after the saltie was documented thrashing its head in an attempt to remove a crab, sparking fears it could drown.
After the 20 seconds of footage began circulating on Facebook on Sunday, some made light of the unfortunate attempt to rob the trap. “Free handbag,” someone joked. “Thats the crab thief,” someone else said. But others were worried the large reptile could drown.
Crocodile tour operator David White contacted authorities about the animal before speaking with Yahoo. “That croc is terrified,” he said. “If you Google crab pots and crocs you will see how many die.”
The Department of Environment (DES) responded to the situation on Monday, and sent a boat onto the Ninds Creek, which runs off Johnstone River, near Innisfail.
Despite an extensive search, its rangers were unable to track the animal down. And footage uploaded to social media that same day of an empty trap indicates the animal likely freed itself.
Fishermen urged to regularly check their crab traps
DES told Yahoo it’s “not uncommon” for juvenile crocodiles to become trapped in crab pots, while adults can become entangled in lines after being lured by bait.
“Sadly, many crocodiles that get trapped in crab pots or entangled in crab pot lines will drown,” a spokesperson said.
Noting a crocodile was found dead with 13 mesh bait bags in its stomach in 2021, it warned the impact of crab fishing is widespread. “The accumulation of bait bags could have eventually contributed to a slow, painful death through starvation,” it said.
Anyone using crab pots is urged to check them regularly and make sure marine species haven’t been caught. If you spot a crocodile in need of help you can contact the DES on 1300 130 372.
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