Friday 25 October 2019

Saltwater Crocodiles found dead in ghost net in Queensland.

Four Saltwater Crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus, have been found dead in an abandoned fishing net in a Mangrove Forest in the Escape River, near Turtle Head Island, on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. The had apparently been attached to the Mangroves to catch Mullet, no-one had returned to collect it, with the effect that it eventually filled up with Fish, which in turn attracted the Crocodiles. Two of the Crocodiles were identified by locals as a male called Pugly who was often seen basking on a sandbank close to people's homes, and a female frequently photographed by tourists. The other two animals were too badly decomposed to be identified. The incident is being investigated by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, who are keen to hear from anyone with information on how the nets got there.

Crocodiles caught in a ghost net on the Escape River in Queensland. Torres Pearls/ABC.

Saltwater Crocodiles are one of the few Crocodile species not considered vulnerable to extinction, being found from India to Australia  and inhabiting many areas that Humans shun, such as Mangrove forests and islands without fresh water. However they are protected in Queensland and other Australian states where they are present, as they are considered an important part of local aquatic ecosystems, and were hunted almost to extinction there between the 1940s and 1960s. They are large animals, reaching about seven meters in length, and are ambush predators capable of taking large prey, including, on occasion, Humans. This can lead to problems as they recolonise areas where they were previously exterminated and encounter Humans who are naïve to their habits, or areas where tourism provides a regular supply of Crocodile-unwary people.

 Crocodile caught in a ghost net on the Escape River in Queensland. Torres Pearls/ABC.

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