Have you ever seen a crocodile up close? There are plenty of opportunities here in far north Queensland either in captivity or in the wild. There are several crocodile spotting operations on the Daintree River, about an hour’s drive north of Cairns. You’ll find them close to the Daintree River ferry crossing, and that’s where our wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen took me to meet Dave White and go croc-spotting on board the Solar Whisper.
Dave was a carpenter in Sydney who moved to FNQ about 20 years ago to work on reef boats and river cruises. He found a talent for spotting creatures in the wild and started his Daintree crocodile cruise business. His boat, as the name implies, runs on solar power and so makes very little noise, allowing it to get very close to the crocs. He’s also got a video screen on board fed by a camera that can give you amazing close ups of the crocs and other creatures that live on the river.
Crocodiles have survived since the dinosaur age, relying on a potent blend of strength and stealth that makes them a real danger to humans who enter their habitat. Like all who work with crocodiles, Dave uses his extensive knowledge of the local crocs and an understanding of their behaviour to get you close and keep you safe. Dave has seen crocodiles fighting each other, and one of the combatants bit his boat! The tooth-marks are still visible in the hand-rail.
Listen to Martin and Dave take you on a Daintree River cruise. We meet Scooter, a teenage male crocodile, hear the story of the epic battle between Scarface and Fat Albert, and some thoughts on mangroves and how to manage crocodile populations.
More about Dr Martin Cohen at http://www.wildaboutaustralia.com/
And a bursary has been established in memory of Martin’s life and business partner, the late Julia Cooper, who died of a rare auto-immune disease in 2011. The bursary will be available to post-graduate students at James Cook University. Read more at http://rdontheroad.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-julia-cooper-memorial-wild-life-research-bursary/
or make a tax-deductible donation at http://alumni.jcu.edu.au/new-site-2012/donations/julia-cooper-memorial-wildlife-research-bursary-information