April 21st 2011
Croc sighting off Radical Bay "...a beautiful thing"
On Tuesday afternoon a large crocodile was seen in the water near Orchard Rocks, just off Magnetic Island’s north east corner, between Radical and Florence Bays, according to two Islanders who were in a boat nearby at the time.
Mr Martin Boersma of Horseshoe Bay said the croc appeared first as a dark shape in front of his boat. Mr Boersma was with a companion, Mr Glen Murdoch, also of Horseshoe Bay. Mr Boersma said, “I was about to head in for a dive. I had my spear gun in my hand, but then decided to go a bit further round when I saw this big black thing in front of the boat. It was too big for a dugong and we thought it might have been a shark or even a croc. Then it surfaced twenty metres behind the boat. “It was a beautiful thing with black and yellow colouration. If I had jumped in I would have been right on top of it! It’s unbelievable! The only time I’ve seen a croc in 25 years on the Island.
“It was about as long as my boat (14 feet) and had a big fat head. It was heading towards Radical (Bay) the same (direction) as the run (tide)," he said.
When asked if he was certain of what he saw Mr Boersma said, “I have no doubt whatsoever. It was on top of the water and it sent a bit of a chill through us".
Glen Murdoch, who was also in the boat, told Magnetic Times a similar story. “I’d been for a dive near Orchard Rocks. The fish had been jumping and we went into Gowrie Bay (between Radical and Florence) but it wasn’t so good (for diving) then we turned back and saw it out in front. I though, what the f...! It could be a croc.”
Mr Murdoch then said he saw the croc about 40 or 50 feet away. “There’s this great big croc. Huge! I saw its head and the body was under water then the tail came up out of the water. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this.”
The pair then headed for Radical Bay where a group of locals were swimming. They warned them over what they saw and Martin rang Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). Later the boaties left to collect friends at Geoffrey Bay and, according to Glen Murdoch, “We searched all the way back but couldn’t find it. Who knows where it went.”
The two men, are however not going to stop swimming and diving around the Island. “I’m a little on edge but I will be back in for sure,” said Glen Murdoch who is a keen swimmer, diver and wind surfer on Magnetic for ten years. I think it’s still a pretty safe place. They (crocs) have always been here but we don’t see them much. It’s just that there’s more people to see them now”
Martin Boersma wasn’t put off either. “I’m gonna go for it (diving) I don’t mind going in with sharks - you can scare them off but it does make you think.” he said.
With the Easter break about to start a croc sighting may deter some visitors while others may be attracted by its exotic wildlife. Magnetic Times sought comment from Tourism and Business Operators Magnetic Island President, Dr Lindsay Simpson who said, "Obviously we have to be concerned for people's safety but it's a shame with it coming up to Easter which is usually the turning point for tourism operators. But, what can you do? It would be a complete mistake not to inform people."
Last year, after school teacher Caron Grey made a sighting at Nelly Bay, QPWS Regional Director, Mr Richard Quincey said, "Magnetic Island hasn't been a known permanent residence for crocodiles," adding, "I think its an animal that's moving around. North Queensland is croc country and people need to be croc-wise. If there are animals deemed to be, of concern then we need to sight it and make a risk assessment." It's likely the same could be said for this croc.
According to a Departmental spokesperson, “The Department of Environment and Resource Management investigates and records all reports of crocodile sightings in Queensland.
“A recent crocodile sighting sign is in place at Radical Bay following an unconfirmed sighting on Tuesday April 19.
“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service surveyed the area and found no evidence of the crocodile. They will continue to survey the area in coming days. Relevant authorities and local businesses have been updated on the sighting.
“There have been no confirmed crocodile sightings at Magnetic Island in 2010 or 2011.
Magnetic Times understands, however, that a “confirmed” sighting is one sighted by a DERM officer.
Details of croc sightings are available on DERM’s croc watch website www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/living_with_wildlife/crocodiles/crocwatch/index.html.
All Crocodile sightings should be reported to the department by telephoning 1300 130 372, or 13 QGOV (13 7468).
Story & file photo: George Hirst
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