Don't be fooled by the myths about fleeing from a croc

Most of the myths about salties are not actually true and they can quite easily lead to people getting into real difficulties in our Top End rivers.
Most of the myths about salties are not actually true and they can quite easily lead to people getting into real difficulties in our Top End rivers.

The wet weather finished early in the Northern Territory this year and the limited late season rainfall means inland rivers are looking beautiful at the moment.

There is nothing more beguiling than the cool of the early morning sitting down by the Katherine River, listening to the rapids and watching black-bream scudding away from the banks.

Don't be fooled.

Territory Parks and Wildlife Rangers carry out saltwater crocodile management procedures in the Katherine and Flora Rivers and throughout the NT.

Their traps have caught a number of saltwater crocodiles over the past few years, sometimes quite large ones, throughout the dry season.

This means that saltwater crocs are moving around in our river year round.

There are many different urban myths going around about salties.

That they don't like swimming in shallow water, that they can be avoided by swimming during the day or in zig zag patterns.

Some stories say that a saltwater crocodile is frightened away if you throw a rock into the water and people have tried to convince me that they can be safe if they have someone watching out for crocs, if they are swimming in clear water, or if they swim with a dog!

Please remember that none of these things are true and in actual fact they can quite easily lead to people getting into real difficulties in our Top End rivers.

After a poor wet season, the river looks positively inviting. Picture: Katherine Town Council.

Salties are perfectly camouflaged ambush predators and can be almost invisible against the stones and mud of the river bed.

FALSE SECURITY: After a poor wet season, the river looks positively inviting. Picture: Katherine Town Council.

FALSE SECURITY: After a poor wet season, the river looks positively inviting. Picture: Katherine Town Council.

They will lie in wait, submerged just under the water for animals coming down to drink and will leap up out of shallow water to grab their prey.

Like many reptiles saltwater crocodiles have nictitating membranes, or third eyelids, that they pull across their eyes when under the water allowing them to see fairly clearly underwater.

Salties hunt wherever there may be fish or other prey and this includes in shallow water, around rock bars and at weirs that span the river creating rapids.

While it is true that salties will often hunt at night they also move around during the day, cooling off in the river or basking on the banks and are not opposed to a lunchtime appointment or two.

Be Crocwise while you are fishing in our rivers this dry season. Camp at least 50 metres away from the water at all times and stand well back from the water when you are fishing.

Always remember, no lure is worth your life.