Freshwater crocodile spotted in Bowen lagoon

Issued: 3 Aug 2018

Wildlife officers are urging people in Bowen to be vigilant but not alarmed if they see a small crocodile in Mullers Lagoon.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) has received multiple reports of a crocodile in the lagoon and wildlife officers have confirmed the animal to be a 1.5 metre freshwater croc.

Acting manager for northern wildlife operations Dr Matthew Brien said freshwater crocodiles posed much less of a risk to people than estuarine crocodiles but people should still remain aware of their own safety when in the area.

“Freshwater crocs have a much narrower snout and are predominantly fish eaters,” Dr Brien said.

“They pose little threat to humans, with the few recorded attacks a result of people either stepping on them or swimming into them.

“But like all wild animals they can show defensive behaviour if they feel threatened so people should never taunt or feed them.”

Dr Brien said the animal will be left as is and wildlife officers have carried out a site assessment to talk to people in the area about staying safe around freshwater crocs.

A follow-up assessment of the area will be carried out by wildlife officers within the next week.

Freshwater crocs are generally timid creatures and have a diet consisting mainly of small animals such as insects, fish, frogs, lizards, turtles, bats and waterbirds, and should be left alone if observed in the wild.

They can be distinguished from estuarine crocs by their smaller size and narrower snouts.

Male freshwater crocodiles rarely grow more than 2.5 metres in length while females usually don’t grow to longer than 1.8 metres.

Bowen is well within known crocodile country. DES strongly reminds residents and visitors that no matter how many crocodiles have been removed, no waterway in croc country can ever be considered to be free of crocodiles. In particular:

  • expect crocodiles in all northern Queensland waterways even if there is no warning sign
  • obey all warning signs—they are there to keep you safe
  • be aware crocs also swim in the ocean and be extra cautious around water at night
  • stay well away from croc traps—that includes fishing and boating
  • the smaller the vessel the greater the risk, so avoid using canoes and kayaks
  • stand back from the water’s edge when fishing and don’t wade in to retrieve a lure
  • camp at least 50 metres from the edge of the water
  • never leave food, fish scraps or bait near water, camp site or boat ramp
  • never provoke, harass or feed crocs
  • always supervise children near the water and keep pets on a lead
  • remember, you are responsible for your own safety in croc country
  • report all croc sightings to DES by calling 1300 130 372.

Further information on being Crocwise is available.

Crocodile sightings can be reported to DES on 1300 130 372 and the department investigates all crocodile reports it receives.

Please see these helpful safety videos for people who may be fishing or boating.

More information on freshwater crocodiles is available on the DES Environment website.