‘IT WAS BIG, BLACK AND UGLY’
MICHAEL BOLT: CROC ENCOUNTER AT FOUR MILE
FIVE members of the Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club had a close call with a large crocodile near the stinger net buoys off Four Mile Beach on Saturday as they went for their regular 6:45 am paddle to Dickson Inlet.
Lawyer and club vice president Michael Bolt has reported the incident to the Douglas Shire Council, in the latest round of a controversy over crocodile management.
Mr Bolt has long been arguing on behalf of the PDSLSC for Douglas to institute a zone 2 croc management scheme as applies in Cairns, but he says the council is resistant to this even while canvassing public opinion lately.
Mr Bolt said on seeing the croc, which he thinks was more than four metres long, he had to return to the beach immediately to warn a lone swimmer.
“We were paddling out from the Surf club at Four Mile Beach when I saw something unusual just beyond the outer northern buoy for the stinger net. At first I thought it was two dolphins about two metres apart,” Mr Bolt said.
“When we were about 40 metres away we could see it was a really large croc by the distance from its snout to the tail. The tail was just massive.
“There were five of us on our racing skis heading north to go around the point.
“It was heading south and towards the beach.
“We paddled slowly past it, keeping a close eye on it and giving it a wide berth. It seemed to be keeping an eye on us and didn’t seem to be in a hurry. After we had gone past the croc it turned its head to follow our progress, then with a powerful swoosh with its tail it just disappeared under the water. We held our breath to see where it would surface but we didn’t see it again.
“But during this period of a couple of minutes someone on the shore had decided to go into the water for a swim. I saw that they were out about chest deep, about 40 metres from shore and about 50 metres from where we had last seen the crocodile.
“I thought how hazardous was this! I turned my ski around and sprinted to warn the swimmer. She was a girl, 16 or 17, of slim build. She made a hasty exit from the water. If we had not been there to intervene, the girl and the croc would have been on a collision course and could well have had an encounter.
“Given the size of the croc I know who would have come out second best. One of our crew opted out of a paddle and was on hand to warn other swimmers of the sighting. So then, as there was no one else in the water the rest of us headed off on our training paddle.
“When we came back 50 minutes later there was still no one in the water. We headed south for a kilometre to see if there was any sign of the croc. On our return to towards the beach we noticed there was a guy in the water, and he was swimming out to one of the cans.
“This was about 7:45 am. The lifeguards don’t come on duty until 9 am, so at that time there was no one there to watch over him. We escorted this man to the shore.”
Mr Bolt believes the croc had come from Dickson Inlet, and he says a club member has reported that a new, very large crocodile – dubbed Clive – has taken up residence in Sandfly Creek, opposite the boat ramp.
“With this sighting we have notified the CrocWatch hot line, we’ve notified Lifeguard Services and a sign has gone up outside the patrol hut and it will be there for seven days,” Mr Bolt said.
“The thing is, a lot of people congre- gate around the patrol hut and they will see the warning sign. It is not a good look for the tourism industry. A lot of people swim at Four Mile Beach. They should be able to swim knowing that it is safe to swim in our ocean.
“The size and numbers of crocodiles in our region is a serious concern to us at the surf club. We’re worried this crocodile will come back, and the greater concern we have is that the larger crocodiles in our region will start moving about at this time of year and become a threat to swimmers.”
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said it sent officers to investigate the sighting. “A site assessment this morning found no further evidence of the crocodile,” a spokeswoman said.
A warning sign has gone up at Four Mile Beach