Tourist Stranded On Australian Island For Weeks By Giant Crocodile

crocodile costa rica
Flickr/Magnus Brath

We’ve all faced travel delays before, and things like strikes, bad weather and road closures can wreak havoc on the best-laid plans. But spare a thought for the tourist who found himself stranded on a remote Australian island for two weeks –- not because his flight was cancelled, but because a giant crocodile was eyeing him down.

New Zealander Ryan Blair had been visiting Governor Island in Western Australia on a kayaking trip when he became trapped by the large reptile. A boat had taken him to the isolated island and dropped him off so he could explore, but the kayaker soon realized he didn’t have enough food to last his visit. He tried swimming back to the mainland but was quickly stopped in his tracks by a 20-foot long crocodile.Although the mainland was only three miles away from the island, Blair couldn’t make the journey back without attracting the attention of the presumably hungry croc. After two weeks of repeatedly attempting the swim — as well as setting fires to attract the attention of passing boats — Blair was getting desperate.

“He was about four meters away from me, and I thought, ‘This is it,'” the kayaker told an Australian television station. “It was so close, and if this croc wanted to take me it would not have been an issue. I was scared for my life. I was hard-core praying for God to save me.”

It seems those prayers were heard because a boatman eventually spotted the 37-year-old and brought him to safety.

15,000 Crocodiles Escape Farm Into South African River

Nile crocodiles escape South African farmA South African crocodile farm is facing a large problem after 15,000 of the animals escaped from the site and made their way into the nearby Limpopo River. The crocs made their dash for freedom when massive floodwaters forced the farmers to open their gates in an effort to avoid those waters from crushing the walls of the enclosures. Most of the animals made their way to the wild bush along the river, which could serve as the perfect home for the massive predators.

A spokesperson for the farm says that they have managed to capture several thousand of the runaway crocs, but they estimated that about half of the escapees were still at large. The farm staff is rounding them up as quickly as they can, but considering the large number of animals that escaped, it is a challenging job.

The escaped crocs are all Nile crocodiles, the species that is most common in Africa. Capable of growing up to 18 feet in length and weighing as much as 1700 pounds, they are the largest freshwater crocs in the world. They are also known for being voracious predators, attacking nearly any other animals (including humans) that wander into or near the waters where they make their home.

The Limpopo River is one of the great waterways of southern Africa, meandering for more than 1000 miles across the region. The river flows into South Africa‘s northeast corner along the border of its famous Kruger National Park, a remote wilderness that would provide plenty of prey for the escaped crocs. The predators are not unknown to the Limpopo, but until now their numbers have been relatively small. That could change if these animals are not rounded up.

Thanks to our friends at Outside Online for sharing this story.

[Photo Credit: Sarah McCans]

Egypt’s newest public wonder: the temple of the crocodile god

Egypt, SobekLast week a new ancient site opened to the public in Egypt–a temple of the crocodile god Sobek.

Medinet Madi is located in Egypt’s Faiyum region, a fertile area around a lake at the end of a branch of the Nile called Bahr Yusuf (“The River of Joseph”).

The temple features a long avenue lined with sphinxes and lions, plus an incubation room for hatching the eggs of sacred crocodiles. You’d think these crocs would live the good life, splashing around the swamps and gnawing on a sacrificial victim or two. Instead they were mummified and sold to pilgrims. Check out the gallery for a couple of photos of crocodile mummies.

Sobek was one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt. He’s generally pictured with the body of a man and the head of a crocodile. He’s said to have created the Earth when he laid eggs in the primordial waters, and the Nile is supposed to be his sweat. He’s the god of the Nile, the Faiyum, and of course crocodiles.

In ancient times the Nile and the lush wetlands of the Faiyum were full of crocodiles. The people prayed to Sobek to appease them. Because he was a fierce god, he was one of the patrons of the ancient Egyptian army.

Sobek’s temple at Medinet Madi was built by the pharaohs Amenemhat III (c.1859-1813 BC) and Amenemhat IV (c.1814-1805 BC) during Egypt’s Middle Kingdom and expanded during the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BC) after Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great.

The temple is also dedicated to the cobra-headed goddess Renenutet, who in some traditions was Sobek’s wife. Despite her appearance, she was a much kinder deity than Sobek, a sort of mother goddess who nursed babies and gave them their magical True Name. Farmers liked her because cobras ate the rats that would eat their crops.

%Gallery-123603%The new tourist site was funded by Italy, which coughed up €3.5 million ($5 million) to clear off the sand and restore the temple. Italian archaeologists have been working in the area for decades and in addition to the Sobek temple they’ve found a Roman military camp and ten early Coptic Christian churches dating from the 5th-7th century AD.

Medinet Madi isn’t the only crocodile temple. Not far away stands Crocodilopolis, where Egyptians honored the sacred crocodile Petsuchos by sticking gold and gemstones into its hide. There are several other Sobek temples along the Nile, the most impressive being Kom Ombo far to the south near Aswan.

Kom Ombo is one of Egypt’s most fascinating temples. It’s rather new as Egyptian temples go–being founded in the second century BC by the Ptolemaic dynasty. Carvings of Sobek and other deities adorn the walls and columns. There are also some scenes from daily life. On the inner face of the outer corridor keep an eye out for a carving showing a frightening array of old surgeon’s tools. Also check out the small shrine to Hathor in the temple compound where piles of sacred crocodiles from the nearby necropolis are kept.

[Photo courtesy Hedwig Storch]

Aquarium crocodile swallows cell phone

crocodileA visitor to an aquarium in the Ukraine was trying to take a picture of a crocodile with her cell phone when she dropped it right into the creature’s mouth, the BBC reports.

Last month at an aquarium in Dnipropetrovsk, Rimma Golovko reached her hand towards Gena the crocodile in order to get a good shot as it opened its mouth. She fumbled and the phone fell right into the Gena’s gullet. The reptile then gulped it down. She told the aquarium staff but at first they didn’t believe her. It was only after Gena’s tummy starting ringing that they realized the crocodile had, indeed swallowed the cell phone.

Funny? Well, yeah, but not for the croc. Gena has since lost its appetite and energy. Considering all the harmful chemicals involved in making a cell phone (they’re considered hazardous waste, after all) it’s not surprising the critter is feeling a little under the weather.

The aquarium’s vet has tried giving Gena laxatives-laced meat, but the it didn’t take the bait. Now he’s considering an operation.

And Ms. Golovko? She says she wants her Sim card back. Well, too damn bad, Ms. Golovko. I’m sympathizing with the giant predator on this one.

[Photo courtesy user MathKnight via Wikimedia Commons]

Kayak guide missing, presumed dead after crocodile attack

kayak guide attacked by crocodileSouth African river guide Hendrik Coetzee is missing, and presumed dead, after he was attacked by a crocodile while paddling a remote river in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday. The experienced guide, who has led expeditions all across Africa, was taking a team of kayakers down the Lukuga River at the time.

Coetzee, along with American paddlers Ben Stookesberry and Chris Korbulic, has been exploring the river as part of an expedition sponsored by First Ascent, a gear company that is owned by Eddie Bauer. They have been paddling rivers near Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda, while spreading the word about the lack of clean water across the continent. The team had been making dispatches to the First Ascent blog along the way, and that is where news first broke about this tragic event.

While the exact details of the events are a bit hazy, it seems that the three men were paddling the Lukuga when a large crocodile sprang up from the water and pulled Coetzee from his kayak. His two companions witnessed the attack, but saw no sign of their guide afterwards. They immediately paddled to shore and called for help from the International Rescue Committee, who quickly dispatched a team to retreive them, and search for Coetzee. That search turned up no trace of the South African.

This story is a sobering reminder of just how dangerous some of the places we travel to can be. Reading it reminded me of a trip to Africa that I took a few years back, during which our guide warned us not to get to close to the river, which was crawling with hippos at the time. My companions and I nodded and acknowledged the large beasts, which are recognized as one of the most dangerous in Africa. Our guide simply smiled and told us it wasn’t the hippos we had to watch out for, but the crocs which lay just below the surface, waiting for us to stray too close. Needless to say, we gave the shoreline a wide berth from then on.

[Photo credit: Sarah Mccans via WikiMedia]