Australia is known for many things, and its array of dangerous animals is one of them. If you’re planning a trip to the east coast of Australia and Fraser Island is on your bucket list, then you may be wanting to know if you’ll run into the infamous saltwater crocodile during your stay…
Saltwater Crocodiles in Australia
The biggest of all crocodilian species is the Estuarine, or ‘Saltwater’ crocodile, (Crocodylus porosus) and they are known to be extremely dangerous to humans. “Salties,” as they are commonly referred to by Australians, are the largest and most dangerous apex predator in the country and can grow up to 7 metres long and weigh thousands of kilograms. Aptly named, salties thrive in both fresh and saltwater, and are most often found in estuaries and at river mouths near the coast, but have also been known to travel thousands of kilometres offshore-They’ve even been tracked travelling to other countries!
Where can you find them?
Saltwater crocodiles are normally found in the tropical north, as they prefer warmer water temperatures, however, have been known to travel long distances and have been found as low as Gladstone, although sitings this far south are few and far between. Generally, the top of Australia is where the highest concentration lies. Mangroves, rivers and estuaries are their preferred homes, and since they have to expend so much energy to move around on the ground, they prefer to stay in or near the water.
Are there crocodiles on Fraser Island?
Crocodiles do not have a permanent population on Fraser Island nor breed there. Since they have been known to travel long distances though, there have been a few alleged sightings along the coast of the island in the past. But these instances have been incredibly rare, and in every case, rangers have investigated and turned up zero results so these sightings are not confirmed. According to a recent article in the Fraser Coast Chronical, “the Fraser Coast is still listed as an "Atypical habitat zone", meaning the Department of Environment and Science identifies the risk of human-crocodile interaction as low.”
Avoid Swimming in the Oceans
It’s always better to be safe than sorry though, and this another reason why you shouldn’t swim in the ocean off the beaches of Fraser Island, amongst others, and take advantage of their many lakes and streams instead. There are no rivers for crocodiles to swim up on Fraser Island, only very shallow creeks and springs flow from the hundreds of lakes on the world heritage site, making them safe swimming spots.
Trust the locals
Locals know best, and if you visit the island be sure to ask your tour operator or local residents you encounter on the island if there have been any recent sightings. Fraser Island is a wild and wonderful place to visit, but it’s important to remember to rely on local knowledge everywhere you go.
Wherever you travel in Australia, (whether you’re in a crocodile territory or not) it’s always smart to exercise caution when entering any body of water, salt or freshwater. The Australian government also has an ongoing educational campaign urging people to be “crocwise,” which you can read more about here.
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