The Northern Territory’s Katherine River will soon be attracting hordes of travellers eager to swim and canoe along the famous waterway.
In readiness, rangers at Nitmiluk National Park have been conducting night surveys to check that there are no saltwater crocodiles in the system.
Back in April, a 3.5 metre male saltie was found in a trap behind Novis Quarry, downstream of the low-level Katherine River crossing, a popular recreation area.
The ABC reports that over the past four weeks pairs of rangers have been travelling along the river at night in small aluminium boats using a spotlight to count and log the location of crocodiles.
Nitmiluk National Park senior district ranger Andrew McPhee said the surveys were to help them offer safety advice to tourists visiting the park.
“We’re here for visitor safety, we’re here to investigate the three gorges that are the popular swimming and canoeing gorges,” Mr McPhee told the ABC. “We’re not trying to see every crocodile every night, it is gathering data over the four week period, seeing how many are around, where they are and the big thing is making sure there are no saltwater crocodiles in the system.”
On an average night the rangers will see 20 to 25 freshwater crocodiles, but if it all the conditions are right they can see up to 35.
Over the next few days, all of the collected data will be analysed and a decision made on whether to allow swimming and canoeing in the Katherine River.
“We never say it is 100% safe because we can never be absolutely sure,” ranger Sarah Franks told the ABC. “But I am fairly confident at this stage there are no saltwater crocodiles in here.”
* Are you comfortable swimming in waters where there are freshwater crocodiles? Do you have a policy about where you will and won’t swim when travelling in the north? Comment below.