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Salt water crocodile attack at Blue Water Mangroves


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#1 Drew

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 04:37 PM

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[EDIT by MODERATOR] - I (Alex_Mustard) have merged the two discussions about this serious incident. Initially there was justification for separate threads, but now more information is available it makes sense to combine all the information in a single thread. The attack occurred on a divesite many Wetpixel members have dived on and also raises wider issues of diving and photographing in the natural habitat of potentially dangerous creatures, which deserve discussion.

Note that more information about this attack became available as this thread developed, so it is well worth reading all the entries (particularly from the second page onwards) before contributing, to get the most accurate information. Especially as there are now contributions from both David, the diver who was attacked, several others who were at the scene, Lauren who has seen and photographed a crocodile at this site before, and also Mark Erdmann the regional coordinator for Conservation International in this area.


I am sure I speak for everyone in wishing David a speedy recovery and return to diving.

p.s. Drew, sorry for merging your discussion, hope you agree it makes more sense in a single thread.

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Just a few days ago, the Ondina had a passenger get bitten by a salt water crocodile at the blue water mangroves near Misool in Raja Empat. The diver suffered severe lacerations on the arm, which was also broken, but fortunately is apparently in good health otherwise.
The salt water crocodile is known to be in the area and has never bitten anyone before in all the years of divers going there. The circumstances of the bite are unknown but there seems to be a plan to hunt and kill this crocodile to prevent further attacks on divers in the area. This concerns me as we don't know the facts about the attack. The croc may have been provoked into the attack by an inquisitive photographer as it didn't tear off the arm of the diver. They could catch the croc and relocate it to another part of the island chain where tourists and locals aren't around. However, apparently this is not practical as wherever they drop the croc, the locals there may object.
In many places, dive ops often kill off offending sea creatures which bite tourists. The stingray city site in Grand Cayman for example. Local dive ops have killed quite a few moray eels over the years because they bite tourists, even though they started the cycle by feeding the stingrays and morays.
I started this poll to gauge WP's members thoughts on this issue. As divers, do we have a right to remove any predators because we want to dive the area? It seems the dive ops may possibly try to protect their business interests and it is just one saltie. However, it is just a dive site and the saltie is just doing its thing. I've been in the water shooting salties, nile and other croc/alligators (including a 4m nile croc) and never been attacked. However, it has happened and now a saltie may be hunted and killed to protect human interests. I am against this but not sure if I'm in the extreme minority on this. If there is enough people, I want to organize a petition to leave the croc alone and allow it to stay in the mangroves. What do you all think?

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#2 loftus

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 04:48 PM

Leave the guy alone; i can't see how this is any different to killing sharks, or bears, or lions, or any other animal potentially dangerous to humans.
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#3 Drew

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 05:39 PM

Opps sorry. Forgot to add the petition side.

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#4 deepsea

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:27 PM

I don't agree with killing the croc, the same as Loftus said, otherwise we might have to kill all the Damselfish that bite us!
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#5 ce4jesus

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:47 PM

Not to mention those blasted trigger fish in mating season...
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#6 MikeVeitch

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 08:51 PM

do not kill it!

find a new divespot

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#7 Hani Amir

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 11:47 PM

I don't think they should kill it but I don't think people should be put at risk either. If another attack occurs, other than some poor bloke getting hurt, it would also hurt the reputations of such animals and make it harder for conservation groups to protect them.

"Killer crocodile strikes again!"

#8 adamhanlon

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:18 AM

Ultimately, the croc has the rights to be there-if you don't like the risk, dive somewhere else. We should not "manage" the marine enviroment in order to facilitate in influx of tourist dollars, and when we do (stingray city) we need to be aware of the consequences. Managed wildlife experiences are available in every zoo and wildlife park in the world-do we really need to expand that to include mangroves in Raja Empat?

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#9 diggy

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 12:34 AM

I am with Adam. We are entering "THEIR" environment and have to accept the risks invloved.

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#10 Hani Amir

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 01:20 AM

Yeah but do you guys really think that's going to happen? People are just going to up and leave a popular tourist spot because of one crocodile? It's sad, but I really doubt it'll happen.

#11 scorpio_fish

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 01:58 AM

How about triggerfish? I was bleeding from two wounds on the Ultimate Indo trip.

The odds of croc attack have to be pretty low. I see no point in any effort to remove a croc. How do you there is just one anyway? Seems plain silly.
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#12 Drew

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 04:33 AM

Those who don't know should note that the blue water mangroves are one of the top attractions in Raja Empat. There are about 15 liveaboards and private yachts bobbing around the area. We should also note that the area is under application for UNESCO World Heritage status.

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#13 DeanB

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 04:59 AM

I am with Adam. We are entering "THEIR" environment and have to accept the risks invloved.

Diggy


Absolutely... We as divers know or should know the risks we take when entering these creatures homes, domains, territories...etc

LEAVE THE CROC ALONE... Not everyone likes having their pics taken... Or we would be shooting half the celebs in this world.... Hmmmm???? :lol: :good:

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#14 Gudge

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 03:42 PM

I agree that something has to be done, either remove the threat (ie, move it somewhere else) or don't dive there. Crocodiles are ambush predators that regularly kill people here in Australia (Sharks get all the press but the death toll from crocodiles is higher):

http://www.abc.net.a.../15/2543592.htm

The fact that this particular crocodile has been known about for some time but has only just attacked recently may be a sign that it has grown big enough and bold enough to believe that humans may now be a suitable prey species.
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#15 Elainew

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 11:07 PM

What Adam, Diggy and Dean said - we're the intruders. THe croc's just doing what comes naturally.

#16 marg_thompson

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 02:02 PM

As long as divers are made aware of the 'risk'... I don't think i would jump in the water with a croc around (they would smell my fear!), but a lot of other divers would. The more people go off the beaten track, to Misool and beyond, the more we are likely to hear about attacks like this. The animals have no where left to go :good: (ie BBC reports of tigers killing illegal loggers)
the croc is part of the eco-system there... who are we to take him out.

#17 jeremypayne

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 02:43 PM

Move the croc or dive somewhere else ... don't kill the poor chap ... he doesn't know any better ...

But to continue to dive in his territory is asking for trouble.
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#18 diver dave1

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 06:40 PM

If we kill creatures where ever its inconvenient for people, we will eventually have no creatures. Humans will show up everywhere on the planet at one time or another and someone will always insist some creature is not to their liking.

As for tigers eating illegal loggers, sounds like we need more tigers to me.

Seems we need a few more places on the planet where man is not supreme... where the animals present have the right to eat whatever is natural for them and people are not welcome travelers. If a human goes there and gets bitten, its the human's fault. Seems salt water croc. country would be a good place for such.

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#19 Drew

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 05:01 AM

Good to hear people accept risks when diving in these areas. However, there are other problems. Someone has suggested to me that the NGO in charge of the area risks legal action should anyone else (esp a US citizen with a lawyer) get bit. Liability for failing to remove the threat to human lives is something NGOs would cringe at. Removing the problem often makes it easier.
I'm no lawyer but think it legally untenable since it is a foreign country and even if it is a US based NGO, it would get thrown out of court in a hurry, especially if ample warning about a man "attacking" croc was given in the liability forms. There is no "premises liability" and it is a nature reserve so there isn't much legal precedence. Still, NGOs don't like to waste money on lawsuits and their field operatives tend to be very pragmatic.
I am trying to find viable alternatives but if this liability is a real threat then this petition will be ignored for the "greater" good.

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#20 DeanB

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 08:11 AM

I think its hilarious :good: ... We go to all these places to see spectacular animals and 'apparently' know the risks we are taking... (Was this diver told of the risks that 'could' happen ???) Then the poor animal suffers because it does what comes naturally... And this behaviour is often what we actually want to see and record... Well not one chomping on a friend but then 'wow' what a stunning piece of footage to play at the wake !!! :lol:

Makes me mad

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