Darwin Day 2 - "Come to Dinner!"

Trip Start Feb 06, 2012
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Trip End Apr 16, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Sunday, March 4, 2012

What a day! We left early in the morning to go see the "jumping crocodiles". Definitely a "tourist" thing but interesting. The drive took us about one hour & on the way we stopped at the Wetlands. Views were spectacular. It was interesting to find out that what we were looking at this year as land was almost completely covered in water a year ago but the rains seem to have been less this year so we saw much more vegetation than the previous year. The rainy season brings torrential rain but the heat of the summer seems to take the water away. As well this stop provided the use of a WC --- always a much needed stop!

After a coach ride of about an hour we ended up at the site. Here we got into  an enclosed windowed boat and went out into the river to see if we could find some crocs. The guides held meat out on a rope to attract the crocodiles and make them rise up out of the water to take the meat. We saw at least 7-8 crocodiles. The Largest being around twenty feet long and weighing 2000 pounds. Both saltwater and freshwater crocodiles are found in the Northern Territory - an interesting fact is that freshwater crocodiles are found only in Australia. 
The saltwater crocodile is the world’s largest crocodile and can grow  up to six metres in length and a few even larger ones have been reported. The size of the croc enables it to be a predator on animals as large as cattle and horses and sometimes unwary people. “Salties” are found in the coastal and tidal areas of rivers as well as floodplains and freshwater reaches of rivers and in fact can be found in the larger rivers, lagoons and billabongs right across northern Australia. It is interesting that if a waterway is not designated ‘safe for swimming’ then it may be inhabited by crocodiles. The general rule is NO Sign, NO Swim. There is actually very little swimming done in the Northern Territory unless it is in a pool!

Freshwater crocodiles “Freshies” do not grow to more than 3.5-4 metres, are more timid and will only attack people when they are forced to defend themselves. The main difference between the species is that the “Freshies” have a long tapered snout and ths “Salties” have a broad snout.

Hunting of both species in the 40’s to 60’s saw a great reduction in the crocodile population. The hunting of “Freshies” stopped in 1964 and the “Salties” in 1971 when they were declared  a protected species. As a result crocodile populations have increased from an estimated 6,000 - 7,000 animals in the early 1970’s and are now over 70,000.

Although crocodiles are protected in the wild, they are farmed in the Top End and provide employment for hundreds of Territorians in farms, tanneries,and support businesses. The farms produce high quality skins and meat for Australian and overseas markets. We did see products made from crocodile -- wallets, purses etc. and we have been offered crocodile food dishes on the ship. Although I did taste the kangaroo I have not tasted the crocodile ......yet!
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