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Salt water crocodile attack at Blue Water Mangroves


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#21 Drew

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 06:02 PM

I am researching the costs of radio tagging the croc so operators know exactly where it is when they send their divers in the water. Indonesia already has a burgeoning crocodile farming industry and some of the crocs are caught wild. So there may be some hope that someone will come to remove it. Problem is it's really remote so the costs will be high. Various businesses (like the pearl farms) kill crocs which go near their property for safety reasons. And there aren't many alternatives that don't cost more than a few bullets. Seems the cheapest route is to kill it. ;)
Leaving the croc alone in the mangroves is not an alternative because of the fear that now that it has attacked humans, it will do so again given the opportunity. Australia regularly kills off crocs that attack humans (although there are restrictions on size apparently).

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#22 laurengreider

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 08:38 PM

I think we assume risks when we dive and that marine life shouldn't suffer our consequences. I believe the crocodile was there first and therefore should not be killed. I had a pretty significant encounter with one in the blue water mangroves of Missool Oct. 31st while diving aboard the Cheng Ho. I reportedly am their first passenger to see one. I was alone and surprised it. It entered the water probably less than 3 ft away from me. I have wide angle film photos as proof! It then chased me into the channel and stayed with it's nose at my strobe arm until the tinny came to my rescue. I have never been more grateful for my ScubaAlert. The crocodile had an amputation of it's right front arm. Does anyone know the details of this crocodile?

#23 laurengreider

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 08:47 PM

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#24 AMW

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 11:22 PM

I have never understood the "kill the animal because it has bitten a human and now knows the taste of human flesh" crap. I remember when diving in the Galapagos someone had been bitten by a blue shark and evidently the locals went on an 'expedition' to kill this shark...how they could identify the particular culprit I have no idea.
Perhaps humans should dive in their backyard pool if they want 0% risk. Should we slaughter yellow margin and titan triggerfish because they bite divers during nesting season? No. Human beings continuously seem to disappoint with their narcissism...

#25 Tonym

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 03:33 AM

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Hi Lauren,
How big was the Croc in your profile photo?

Edited by Tonym, 19 April 2009 - 05:55 AM.


#26 Drew

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:41 AM

There is unsubstantiated talk about someone stabbing the eye of the croc in order to get it to release the diver.However, I'm trying to reach Ricardo of the Ondina to confirm this. As usual there is a lot of chatter that facts just don't come clearly.
The issue of liability is one of those things. There would be a public outcry if another person got bit about how the government or authorities didn't do anything to prevent it. All lame and BS but we all know it is pervasive thinking.
Relocation seems very unlikely due to local issues (can you imagine if someone dropped that particular croc near a local village and it attacked a local?).
If the croc is injured in the eye, the pressure to kill it will only increase. An injured croc can't hunt as well and humans would be considered easier prey. That seems to be the thinking (whether right or wrong isn't really an issue)
The other issue is that the news may hit locals who will take action on their own regardless of local authorities.

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#27 elbuzo

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

There is unsubstantiated talk about someone stabbing the eye of the croc in order to get it to release the diver. However, I'm trying to reach Ricardo of the Ondina to confirm this. As usual there is a lot of chatter that facts just don't come clearly.
The issue of liability is one of those things. There would be a public outcry if another person got bit about how the government or authorities didn't do anything to prevent it. All lame and BS but we all know it is pervasive thinking.
Relocation seems very unlikely due to local issues (can you imagine if some foreign NGO dropped that particular croc near a local village and it attacked a local?).
If the croc is injured in the eye, the pressure to kill it will only increase. An injured croc can't hunt as well and humans would be considered easier prey. That seems to be the thinking (whether right or wrong isn't really an issue)
The other issue is that the news may hit locals who will take action on their own regardless of local authorities.




I was following this thread and waiting to see if some details come available because i was thinking that maybe that croc is injured or have some handicap . Now that i saw Lauren post about a croc with a missing leg probably that's the same croc that bite the diver .

Hope to see a report with the real facts . By now the blue water mangroves have seen many divers so why this happened now ? was the diver chasing it or was in their way or near a nest or the croc just targeted the diver as a prey ?

#28 Drew

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:07 PM

Let's not assume the croc Lauren saw was the same one that attacked in the latest incident. There have been reports of crocs in Nampale for years. Several people have seen them in the swamps. There's no reason to think there's only one. Misool is close enough whereby the croc could've come from there, probably after being kicked out by the alpha male.
The best advice I've been given is not to snorkel alone around crocs. You're at the losing end of a breath hold endurance. Going deep and maintaining eye contact while making a hasty retreat is probably the best.
I'm pretty sure the details of this particular attack will not be truly known if not told by the diver himself. Hopefully it's not one of our members.

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#29 Drew

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 04:59 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.

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#30 mverdmann

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Posted 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...

#31 Drew

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 07:35 AM

Mark
Thanks for chiming in with valuable info with your busy schedule. As you and I both know, just cos it's illegal in Indonesia doesn't mean it's not done.
I'll forward you the info I've found on the radio collar once the research crew gets back to me ... but I'm afraid it'll be prohibitively expensive for a single croc unless someone in JKT wants to fund the "research". The problems are replacing the battery on the radio collar and distributing the radio receivers among all the boats. The collar can work the other way where photogs will want to find the croc to shoot it and probably start another incident or at the least harass the heck out of it. No win situation.
I'm actually glad I don't have to write a petition to help protect the croc now that you are aware of the situation and can relay some tourist reaction to the relevant authorities.
Again thanks for coming in for this.

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#32 bruceterrill

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 05:49 PM

As 'Gudge' said.
From the land of crocodiles here in Australia, crocs regularly attack humans and fail to raise the interests of the media.
This bloke has now grown to a size and sexual maturity where he now believes that he has to defend his territory from all intruders.
I would also be so bold as to predict the recent arrival of a certain little girl saltie that seems to have aroused his testosterone levels.
Leave him alone. . . . If he 'has' to be removed, there are plenty of burly Australians well versed in the capture and release of saltwater crocs.

Bruce...

#33 MikeO

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:13 PM

Since this has apparently happened AT LEAST twice now, I'd be curious to know what, if anything, boats are telling their divers when they go to this area. Are they warning them? It's one thing to dive there with the knowledge of the threat. Then it is a calculated risk. It's another is the boat staff aren't being honest about the facts . . .

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#34 Drew

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 06:54 PM

Well Mike, I'm very sure they will be mentioning it now for Nampale. ;)
I've gone to Indo quite a few times over the years and only 2 cruise directors have ever mentioned the possibility of crocs. The same 2 even took me to look for the crocs.
To be fair to the operators, I don't think they are being dishonest. Salties are ALL over the Indonesian islands (well the less populated ones who haven't killed them off). Anywhere there's an estuarine environment or areas of mangrove, there is a possibility of a croc being there. I mean on 3 trips I've been on, we've run into crocs serendipitously in 3 different areas, Papua Barat, Wetar and some island near Misool. It's very difficult to foresee where the crocs might be hiding. Do they have to warn about the possibility on every site?

I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize for the possible allusion that the NGOs would be responsible for killing the croc. I wasn't clear in that exclusion that the NGOs are not responsible for the croc in any way.

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#35 debf

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 06:55 AM

Crocodile Attack in Raja Ampat Mangroves

I realize there is an ongoing thread in this forum concerning the recent crocodile attack, but chose to start a new thread rather than tack on a 3rd (or perhaps 4th or 5th by now) page on top of the speculations.

Since shortly after the attack I've known about it, but since I could only get 3rd hand info decided to wait until I could speak face to face with some of the SMY Ondina crew and get the facts from those who were present at the time. I've just had dinner with the cruise director and one of the divemasters who were there. Tomorrow I will speak with the divemaster who was actually in the water with the croc and diver, so will post again on about May 4 when I return to Sorong.

The diver, Daniel, a non-photographer, British, technical diver with about 1000 dives was diving with his buddy and a divemaster on the 3rd dive of the day in the mangrove area. They had completed their dive and were heading slowly toward the surface. They were perhaps 4 meters from the edge of the mangroves.

Upon surfacing the divemaster saw a crocodile enter the water. He told the two divers and instructed them to get off the surface and dive deep. One diver and the divemaster did so. The other didn't hear (or possibly understand) stayed on the surface and the crocodile went straight for him, grabbing the diver around the neck and putting a large deep gash across his neck just under the chin.

The croc released the diver and immediately came back, grabbed the diver by the arm and hand and started dragging the diver down and shaking (rolling?) the diver who had the
presence of mind to get his second reg and put it in his mouth meanwhile wresting with the crocodile. They struggled.

The buddy and divemaster came for the croc. The buddy tried to open the croc's mouth and free his friend (can you imagine?). Both the divemaster and buddy were poking at the croc's eyes with their fingers to try to get it to release Daniel and finally it did.

The dive tender was already beside the divers so they lifted Daniel onto the tender while one of the crew was hitting the croc with an oar.

A dentist on board cleaned the wounds, stitched up Daniel's chin and (I'm not clear on this) hand and arm. He was evacuated to a Sorong hospital by speedboat while the rest of the group continued their dive trip.

The surgeon at the Sorong hospital determined that the tendons in Daniel's hand were cut and wanted to do the surgery to repair them. Instead the dentist (guest diver) recommended that the injuries did not need immediate repair and that they be cleaned and Daniel prepared for a flight to some place with better medical facilities.

Daniel flew to Singapore with his buddy where he has already undergone 2 surgeries to repair the tendons in his hand and, I hear tonight, a third surgery is planned. Ondina's CD had been in touch daily with the injured diver.

The crocodile was not provoked, poked, prodded, fed or photographed by these divers, the crew or anyone from Ondina. The crew, divers, divemasters did not know it was there and had not seen any crocodiles at that site this season. We rarely see a croc in Raja Ampat but are aware they do exist.

There is no plan (at least from the SMY Ondina owners or crew) to attack, shoot, relocate or do anything with this crocodile. Ondina's crew is somewhat perplexed about the

Should they kill the saltie croc which just attacked a diver?

topic/poll and where it started. They are wondering why someone without the facts is speculating on a public forum.

The Ondina is not planning to dive the area anytime soon.. and I doubt any amount of money would get that divemaster back into the water there after watching this attack.

My opinion: Any diver or diver operator who chooses to dive in this area knowing full well this crocodile is there and willing to attack without provocation should do it on their own. They should not risk the dive holiday of the (other) divers aboard their ship or the lives of the crew & divemasters who would consider it their duty to try and save a diver from a crocodile attack. It is not worth risking lives for even an award winning photo or to sell a spot on a dive trip. To think otherwise is silly and selfish.

We have informed our group of photo/video divers of the incident (most of whom had specified the mangroves as one site they were most interested to visit) and they have decided unanimously to give it a miss after hearing the details of the attack from the people who were aboard at the time.



[EDIT BY MODERATOR (AM)] - Apologies to Deb for merging the threads - this was the start of a second thread - but I believe it makes sense to put all this information in a single place.

Edited by Alex_Mustard, 23 April 2009 - 04:57 AM.


#36 MikeO

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:17 AM

Thanks Deb,

Nice to hear some information from somewhere closer to the source. Sounds like a very scary situation and it also sounds like everyone (victim, buddy, divemaster, tender crew) is very lucky to be as OK as they are. As someone who has been there on trips where I and other photographers are often solo diving up the shallow channels, searching for that "perfect shot", this brings a new perspective to the wisdom of that practice. The tenders are normally nearby but certainly can't easily get into some of the areas that determined photographers can. What if the victim had been without his buddy and the divemaster? I shudder to think.

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#37 loftus

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:27 AM

Thanks for that clarification.
I guess one has to assume that such attacks are possible from this croc or others anywhere in the area.
The question then arises what decisions are taken and to what degree divers are informed and cautioned or prevented from diving in ANY area where these animals are known to exist.
Two months ago I was diving in Jardin de la Reina where there is at least one well known resident salt water croc. We saw him at night around the boat and I was diving there the next day. There have not been any attacks YET, but it is quite possible there will be one in the future. Should diving be cautioned against in any area where there are crocs? I'm not suggesting one thing or another, I'd like to hear what others think.
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#38 Tonym

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:35 AM

DebF has just posted a new thread with facts about the Crocodile attack at the Blue Mangroves in the Misool area.
She would have made this post but the Orchid lounge was closing and the internet connection at the Meridien Hotel was not working so I posted it for her.

"I realize this is an ongoing thread in this forum concerning the recent crocodile attack, but chose to start a new thread rather than tack on a 3rd (or perhaps 4th or 5th by now) page on top of the speculations."


The facts about the Crocodile attack from the Cruise Director and one of the divemasters.


[EDIT BY MODERATOR (AM)] - Apologies to Tony for merging the threads - this post was in the original thread directing readers to the new thread (which in now merged into this discussion). Ihave updated the link so it still takes you to Deb's comments (above in this thread).

#39 Drew

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 07:58 AM

Deb
Thanks for the reporting what the Ondina reported to you. A friend and member of WP was also on this trip and emailed me as to what happened (since he was on the dinghy that picked up Daniel David as well) but I wanted him to post himself so it'd be first hand, which will be forthcoming once he travels home.
As for the "speculation" of killing the croc, Mark Erdmann of CI has already explained that matter in the other thread. I suggest you read that post (and the thread) since I never said the Ondina would do anything to the croc directly. It is clearly the local authorities (as Mark indicated) who would be responsible for that. I'm sorry if you misread my posts. I did apologize for the allusion that NGOs would be responsible though.
In your own words, you have said the croc will attack without provocation, when it's just being a predator. Local authorities may also think that and killing the croc is one possible outcome(in fact in many countries, they share that sentiment and do kill the crocs , even in a country where they are protected like Australia). This is not speculation as I know crocs have been killed in the Raja Empat area to protect the staff of certain businesses. My post was to make sure that the croc is protected, whose fate, as yet, is still undetermined.
With regards to the presence of crocs in Nampale, Kararu had already reported Lauren Greider's encounter (and pictures) in their Dec 08 newsletter. Other operators have spotted the croc before and shared the news. It's old news that there are crocs in Nampale. The fact is there are salties in quite a few places in the archipelago.
I am glad you think of your customer's safety first before photo ops. As always, there are various risks in this sport and divers have to assume responsibility for taking these risks, including DCS from unsafe diving and attacks from large predators in the wild.

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#40 laurengreider

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Posted 21 April 2009 - 08:57 AM

The crocodile that I saw was probably 10-12 feet long. It was missing it's right front hand. My vet looked at my photos and thought it might be female. The crew on the Cheng Ho saw it surface swim back to shore and "marked" the area for avoidance. We entered the water in a pretty area that I had dove before. There was a strong current and an outgoing tide so there was pretty poor vis. I blew past everyone I was diving with and just went with the current. It was not a pretty area, no coral on the roots and I was stalking archer fish when it entered the water. The photo pro, Steve, aboard the Cheng Ho, has been way back in the lakes and has found stirred up water. I definitely wouldn't go there!

The crocodile came after me, I shot four photos thinking that would irritate it and it would split and then swam like hell. I probably should have gone deep but my fear was that if he/she followed me that I'd be dealing with a deep attack and could risk getting bent. I surfaced only after I could no longer see it behind me. It did spot me in the channel though and then swam out to me. I held my strobe arm against its nose and it lifted its lips and did a little test bite of my strobe arms. I whistled non-stop with my Scubalert until the boat came to my rescue. I was wondering what I would do if it attacked me and am grateful it didn't. I am also glad that I saw the croc and that the 68 y/o woman snorkeler on our trip didn't. I had my camera and my ex-ER-nurse sense of adventure to protect me!

I would dive the area again but only with good lighting and visibility. I would stay with my same-day-same ocean buddy diving spouse and would only venture up the wide mouthed rivers. I think in the day time the crocks probably hang on the surface and would most likely be visible from a distance. Maybe the boats can stay in touch with each other on locations to avoid. The area looks like such a crocodile habitat that I am assuming they are everywhere.