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Sharks and crocs work wonders for Oz awareness

November 1, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Recent news stories involving Australian crocodiles and sharks are boosting awareness of the country around the world – and the perceptions are by no means negative.

Crocs and sharks are part of Australia’s wild and primal appeal. They add an untamed edge to the national image, doing what lions and rhino do for Africa – though nobody wants to end up tangling with any of them too closely.

In recent hair-raising news, a British man told the BBC how he swam over seven kilometres to safety with a tiger shark on his tail.

John Craig, 34, had been spear-fishing off the Western Australian coast – and when he surfaced he couldn’t see the boat. He did, however, see a four-metre-long tiger shark. He began a long swim back to shore and safety, holding his spear gun between himself and the shark to deter it as it swam around him.

Men clowning around in a baited crocodile trap

Craig, an experienced diver, said the shark made several close passes and seemed very curious.

“It was trying to work out what I was and whether I could be on the menu,” he told the BBC.

“It was terrifying. I thought I was just going to be eaten out here in the middle of nowhere…”

The incident happened in the perfectly named Shark Bay, a World Heritage Site in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.

In another bizarre incident at about the same time, on the other side of the country in far north Queensland, a group of men were photographed hooning around a baited a crocodile trap.

Shark Bay, Western Australia

Photos posted on Facebook show the men clambering on top of the trap and inside it. The baited trap had been placed at the Port Douglas marina.

Police and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) officers have launched an investigation into the “stupid and reckless interference” with a trap specifically designed to attract crocodiles.

Crocodile traps had been set in the area after a 79-year-old woman suffering from dementia wandered off from a nearby nursing home and was eaten by a crocodile.

Saltwater crocodile

Police and State Emergency Service searchers examining a local creek found a walking stick with the victim’s name on it, shreds of clothing and human remains which forensic testing confirmed were from the victim.

Crocodile numbers have increased massively in far north Queensland since culling stopped there in 1974.

Written by Peter Needham

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