Mackay, Qld: Croc launch into boat ‘not normal’ behaviour

Following reports of a fisherman escaping unharmed when a crocodile launched itself into his tinnie while he was fishing, a crocodile expert has had his say on what may have occurred.

Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) was alerted by fisherman Richard Brookman after the large crocodile reportedly leapt from the water and into his tinnie at Jane Creek near St Helens Beach, north of Mackay, about 10am on December 31.

Australian Reptile Park’s crocodile expert Billy Collett said although crocodiles launching into boats did happen, the circumstances surrounding this incident were rare.

“Normally, when they do it (land in a boat), it’s by accident,” he said.

“There’s a crocodile on a bank somewhere and people come in too close, and the croc breaks out and fires off the bank and ends up in the boat.

“But behaviour like this, where it’s approached a boat and apparently jumped in (from the water) is not normal.”

Mr Collett had a theory for the crocodile’s behaviour.

“It’s normally encouraged by people trying to feed them,” he said.

“The crocodiles start to see boats as food and they start coming over to them and they get more and more confident.

“There’s usually human contributing factors behind incidents like this.”

One part of the fisherman’s account that shocked Mr Collett was the size of the croc, with Mr Brookman telling the ABC the croc that leapt into his boat was about 4m long.

Most importantly for Mr Collett, he didn’t want people “stressing out” over the incident.

“This isn’t going to happen all the time and it’s not something we see very often,” he said.

“Unfortunately for that animal now, it’s probably going to be targeted by DES for removal.”

Senior wildlife officer Jane Burns said a DES investigation had been launched, with wildlife officers contacting Mr Brookman on Monday.

Ms Burns said the fisherman told officers that the crocodile was not in the tinnie for “too long”.

“This would have been a frightening incident for the fisherman who we are told is a long-term local who has fished in Jane Creek for decades,” she said.

“The man said he had been fishing around four hours and when he saw the large crocodile approaching the boat, he moved to the back of the vessel and started the engine.

“The crocodile swum under the tinnie, then turned and launched itself up and into the vessel with its jaws wide open.

“The man then jumped the crocodile to get to the bow of the tinnie and retrieve the anchor, and the crocodile pivoted, overbalanced and fell into the water, bending the rails of the tinnie.

“The fisherman went to the boat ramp at Black Rock Creek.

“He told us he had never seen such a large crocodile behaving that way in the region before.”

Ms Burns said officers were now conducting daytime site assessments and erecting warning signs for those entering the water.

“Should we not confirm the presence of a crocodile during our daytime search, we will conduct a night-time spotlight assessment in Jane Creek when tidal conditions are suitable,” Ms Burns said.

“If a crocodile is in the vicinity, we will assess its behaviour and the risks posed to public safety, and if it is assessed as a problem crocodile, it will be targeted for removal from the wild.

“People who are using Jane Creek or St Helens Beach should be extremely vigilant because the Mackay region is Croc Country, and people should avoid complacency around waterways.

“Crocodiles are highly mobile and can be found in any river, creek or ocean beach in Croc Country.

“Remember, you are responsible for your own safety in Croc Country, and Mackay is known Croc Country and people must be Crocwise while near the water.”

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