I’m starting to realise my blog is turning a some sort of David Attenborough documentary with all the wildlife posts and pictures as of late, but I’m not going to apologise for it! If you’re enjoying all the Aussie nature and wildlife Sun Scribes has been showcasing, then stick around this is one hell of a blog post!
When I planned my move to Oz I started a bucket list of all the animals in the wild I wanted to see. So far I haven’t been disappointed and today was no different! We saw not one, not two, but THREE crocs in the wild today thanks to the amazing crew at the Daintree River Cruise Centre.
For just $28, we were brought on a personalised cruise on the Daintree River, through the tropical rainforest in search of crocodiles, snakes and other wildlife along the banks. Our guide Adam, a true Aussie croc lover, was hilarious, cracking jokes on the boat and making us all laugh the whole way. He was also incredibly informative not just about the crocodiles, but about the Daintree River and all the amazing nature within the river and forest.
As we cruised along on the M.V. Matilda, he told us all about the river and its history. Discovered in 1873 by the Europeans, it was named after Richard Daintree, a British geologist. The area became the first base for a red cedar timber industry, and within I twenty years, the colonists had completely wiped out all of the red cedar trees. The Daintree River is also home to a vast mangrove population. Australia has the third largest area of mangroves in the world, just behind Indonesia and Brazil.
While the flora on the river is spectacular, that’s not what draws in such a big crowd to these parts. The main attraction is of course, the saltwater crocodile! We sailed down the river, letting the morning sun sink in and taking in the views, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for some crocs. For some reason, I was searching the water, expecting maybe to see a pair of eyes peak out over the black and then duck down under again. You can imagine the pure shock I got when the boat pulled up to the bank, just meters away from our first croc of the day!
There he was, huge body out on the dry land with an open mouth showing rows of teeth, warning us not to get any closer. There is an incredible amount of antipathy and hostility towards these salties because of their reputation as a man-eater, and some have even called for a cull on the population. But the crocs here play a huge part in the ecosystem, just like every living thing here has a roll to keep the show up and running. The M.V. Matilda brought us closer to the croc than we’ve ever been in a zoo, and while I was slight petrified, I couldn’t help appreciate the beauty at how prehistoric these creatures are! It’s hard to imagine culling this species after seeing them like this in the wild.
It wasn’t long until our second sighting on the river. I thought I had just seen a big croc, but apparently I was wrong! This fella made the first guy look tiny! At a whopping 4.2 metres long, this croc still wasn’t at its largest! Male salties continue to grow and grow until they die, the average reaching 5 metres, but some growing to 7 metres long!
From big to absolutely minuscule. While we were still reeling from seeing these massive beasts just metres from our boat, eagle-eyed Adam slowed to a halt to point out a baby croc, about twelve inches long, lying on a branch jutting out into the fast-moving water. “That must mean there’s a mother croc nearby right?” I asked scanning the rest of the water. “Nope”, replied Adam. The poor babies crocs are left to fend for themselves the moment they hatch from the egg! Only about one out of 100 eggs actually make it to maturity because of the threats baby crocs have to fend off…all by themselves! Hopefully this little guy makes it!
While Adam was a keen lover of these fascinating reptiles, he was keen to emphasise how to keep safe while in areas that are crocodile populated. Unfortunately there have been a number of human deaths related to crocs on the Daintree a River, but if a few simple “croc-wise” rules had been followed, these deaths could have been prevented.
Crocodiles are “opportunistic feeders”, which means if they see a meal, they’re gonna go for it! It doesn’t matter if they’ve eaten ten minutes ago or ten days ago, if it’s alive and within range, a croc will seize the moment for another bite to eat. By staying well away from the water’s edge, and never EVER entering the water, you should be safe in croc territory. Also be extra mindful at night time; crocs have extremely good night-vision,cans can see better than humans can at daytime!
The tourist information all around Daintree and Cape Tribulation is excellent for informing visitors where is safe to swim and where you should be croc-wary. We’ve followed the general rule while travelling in Oz, if you’re unsure, it’s best just stay clear of the water!
We thoroughly enjoyed our croc spotting with the Daintree River Cruise Centre and highly recommend them to book your day out with. Seeing these animals in their natural environment is a true Aussie experience not to be missed – once you see them in the wild you’ll never want to step foot in the zoo again!
For more information on booking your cruise, click here.