Visitors warned of hidden danger in Aussie waterways: 'Can and will kill you'

Saltwater crocodiles can be found in waterways of any size or depth, with Aussies being told to 'prioritise safety'

Locals and tourists are being warned not to risk their lives in and around many waterways as the chance of seeing a crocodile has been heightened because of the recent onslaught of rain in the Top End.

What's more, because it's breeding season, they're also "a bit more aggressive" local fisherman Rodney Fischer told Yahoo News Australia, agreeing it's important to be "croc wise" in and around the water.

Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife has reminded Aussies this week that while saltwater crocs are "amazing animals" they "can and will kill you if given the chance" alongside a photo showing just how hidden they can be.

A photo shared on Facebook by the government organisation shows how the large reptile can easily be missed. Surrounded by lush trees at an unnamed location is a murky pond and in it, pointy scales can be seen sticking out in the distance.

Crocodile poking out of murky pond in Northern Territory
Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife warned Aussies just how easily crocs can hide in waterways of any size or depth. Source: Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife

The organisation warned that during the wet season — which typically runs between November and April — "saltwater crocodiles can and do move around more than normal during times of flooding". Heavy rains have flooded parts of the territory in recent weeks, flooding access roads and homes.

Crocs can be found in 'any waterway'

It's not just large rivers or lakes that are at risk of becoming home to the animals though, as the organisation warned "saltwater crocodiles can potentially be found in any waterway" — regardless of its size or depth.

"Crocs move around to find food and mates. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, shallow or deep, or fast flowing or still the body of water is," the social media post said. "Saltwater crocodiles can potentially be found in any waterway whether it’s a quiet and shallow waterhole, a busy roadside culvert or the mighty Adelaide River."

"Saltwater crocodiles are important to the culture of many Territorians, they are also important to the Territory economy and an essential part of our Top End ecosystem," the post continued. "They are amazing animals, but they can and will kill you if given the chance. Prioritise safety when you are in or near Top End waterways and make sure to stay five metres back from the water’s edge at all times."

Fischer agreed that people "need to take notice of warning signs" around the area. "It is the breeding season now, so the crocs are a bit more aggressive, so that makes them more dangerous," he said.

A crocodile disappearing under the water below The Mowbray Bridge near Port Douglas
Crocodiles can disappear quickly underwater and can be hard to spot (picture taken at the Mowbray Bridge near Port Douglas, Queensland). Source: Peach Pankhurst

Crocs can be 'invisible underwater'

In November, a Queensland woman told Yahoo News Australia that she was shocked to see "just how quickly a croc can become "invisible underwater". She warned people on social media not to swim in areas known for crocodiles after filming the native animal floating in the water before suddenly disappearing beneath the surface.

"This is why I don't swim in the water," she told Yahoo at the time."It just reinforced that just because you can’t see crocs around doesn’t mean they’re not there".

Crocodile hiding in water at Cahill Crossing in Northern Territory.
Cahill Crossing is known to have an abundance crocodiles, with visitors often warned to be careful. Source: Facebook

NT has largest population of crocs

The NT is home to the world's largest wild crocodile population, with more than 100,000 of the predators in the wild. An estimated 10 per cent of these can be found at Cahills Crossing in Kakadu. Fischer said it appears croc numbers "are increasing" throughout the Northern Territory. "I think they're just starting to get back to a healthy population. Like they would have been before they were hunted,' he said.

There are more saltwater crocodiles in the NT than Queensland and Western Australia where the reptiles can also be spotted. Warnings have been issued previously to tourists visiting the popular Cahills Crossing, famous for its abundance of crocodiles. A photo of a group of tourists casually standing on the crossing previously prompted widespread condemnation.

Last month, a freshwater crocodile was spotted in a shallow waterway on the side of a remote road in Darwin. The crocodile can be seen enjoying the cool water in the iconic landscape as the state sweltered through an extreme heatwave.

This month, Aussie police battled crocodiles to recover a young driver's body. And a nine-year-old boy was attacked by a croc while visiting the Kakadu National Park.

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