Talk about up close and personal. We were less than a foot away from some jumping crocodiles on the Adelaide River in Australia. And we were warned that if we didn’t want to loose a foot – or finger – or hand – that we best keep our appendages from dangling over the side.
Thanks to Viking Cruises, we experienced wild life in the wild. We were on their turf. During an hour long Jumping Crocodile Cruise, crocodiles’ snacks were dangled over the side of our flat bottom boat as a lure for the fifteen foot long creatures to jump above the water to retrieve the food offered to them. They got what they wanted – a nice meaty snack. We got what we wanted – the opportunity to see them rise out of the water, open their jaws wide, and envelope their rewards.
As we traveled the course, we learned a great deal about these salt water reptiles. They are highly territorial predators who eat each other, turtles, grubs, frogs, or pretty much anything that crosses their paths.
Our outward-facing seating on the boat gave us unobstructed views of the crocodiles and other critters and vegetation. The driver turned the boat so visitors on both sides could observe these aggressive creatures in their natural habitat.
The Adelaide River, less than an hour’s drive from Darwin, Australia is home to about 10,000 of these reptiles. These “Salties” have the strongest bit force of any animal. Our on-board guide told us that their life span is estimated at 70-90 years. They don’t usually die in the wild, but rather are killed and eaten by others of their species who take over their turf.
One of the stars of the day was Casanova, a 1700 pound specimen. He did take the bait and raised himself out of the water for his snack. It is important to note that the food used to lure the crocs out of the water is not their main diet, more like a snack or dessert, enough to entice them to rise up so that we can appreciate their size. They use their tails to rise high enough to grab the food dangled for them.
The younger leaner ones can jump higher as we saw. These salt water crocodiles have a unique sensory system that enables them to tune into vibrations in the water. They can sense “food” entering the water.
Each boat has two knowledgeable licensed guide/driver/helpers who are familiar with the local crocodiles. They are careful to ensure that any animal is not fed more than once a day so that they never rely for sustenance on what is given to them. In fact, guides are required to keep a log.
In addition to the crocodiles, we saw the birds. A crew member started to whistle and successfully attracted a large Whistling kite raptor who flew close enough for us to get some pictures of this species. We learned that these birds can catch and eat their prey while in flight.
On the way back, we made a quick stop at the Wetland View Top. From there, we were able to take in a panoramic view of the floodplains surrounding us. It is gratifying to know that the facility we visited is proudly owned by the Arirrki Aboriginal Corporation, a registered not-for-profit which is dedicated to “Community support for the Anindilyakwa people of the Groote Eylandt Archipelago, our brothers and sisters.”
We truly enjoyed this excursion provided to us by Viking Cruises during our Komodo and the Australian Coast Cruise.
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