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Member Since 20 Apr 2009
Offline Last Active Oct 18 2013 10:31 AM

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In Topic: Salt water crocodile attack at Blue Water Mangroves

20 April 2009 - 06:58 AM

I have received an email from one of the passengers of the Ondina who was on the boat when this happened.
Apparently the victim had no camera and did actually hurt the croc's eye. Hopefully this person will post more details when he gets settled at home.

Hi all. As the regional coordinator for Conservation International's Bird's Head Seascape marine conservation program (which includes Raja Ampat), I'd like to quickly clarify a few misperceptions about the management response to this croc attack:

1) While there are a number of international NGOs (amongst them Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy) and local NGOs (including Papua Sea Turtle Foundation, Yayasan Nazareth, Belantara, etc) assisting the Raja Ampat government in its efforts to manage its marine resources (including the 7 marine parks which now span Raja Ampat), none of these can be said to "be in charge" of Raja Ampat. NGOs have no legal basis to manage Raja Ampat's reefs - we are simply facilitators. Moreover, I note that the Nampale Blue Water Mangrove site where the attack occurred is not actually within one of the marine parks which the NGOs facilitate the management of. The main point here is that NGOs have neither the authority to capture/kill this crocodile nor any liability were another diver to be attacked

2) Saltwater crocodiles are a protected species in Indonesia due to their threatened population status. Killing one is illegal unless done by the authorities vested with this power - in this case the Indonesian Department of Nature Conservation (PHKA). We have reported the attack to this authority so they are aware of this, but beyond this we have no intention of pursuing this crocodile. We will, however, monitor the response of the Department and in particular try to ensure that IF they decide to hunt down the injured animal (in my opinion unlikely), that this is done professionally and in a targeted manner that does not resort to a "witch hunt" that results in the needless deaths of multiple animals.

3) As members of conservation NGOs, I think I probably speak for all/most of us in saying that we are delighted that 4m crocodiles still exist in Raja Ampat and are committed to ensuring this remains the case. And that we echo the general sentiments expressed in this thread - ie, that divers must accept the risk of possible attacks by predators when they dive in a place like Raja Ampat - indeed, as divers we should revel in the fact that there are still areas we can dive where large predators still exist. Sadly, this is not the case on many of the reefs of the world today.

We are nonetheless relieved that the diver who was attacked managed to free himself, and wish him (and the croc) a speedy recovery. We'd advise that all divers/dive operators planning to visit mangrove areas in Raja Ampat and Papua in general take serious note of the risks involved, while also noting that these "blue water mangrove" areas are of course stunningly beautiful and offer unique dive and photography opportunities. I close in noting that I'm intrigued by Drew's suggestion to radio-collar this injured animal to monitor its movements (and its hopeful recovery) - I'd be keen to hear Drew's conclusions from researching this possibility...