Magnetic Island swim weighs risk with rogue reptile Wally still on loose
Race against the croc
THE Magnetic Island to Townsville swim will be cancelled for the first time in its 61year history if a rogue 4m crocodile is not trapped in the next fortnight.
The department charged with tracking the elusive reptile, last spotted on June 7, said the animal may have left the area or died.
More than 50 competitors from across the country had registered to compete in the Magnetic Island open water swim when entries closed on Tuesday.
But organisers say the 8km event will be cancelled if the crocodile, dubbed Wally, was not trapped by July 19.
Organising committee member John Barrett said the cancellation would be unprecedented, with only poor weather or numbers affecting previous events.
“We will be watching the situation closely and will leave it until a week before the race to cancel to give people the opportunity to make alternative travel arrangements if necessary,” Mr Barrett said.
“Unlike the triathlon festival where the field is condensed and they can have extra safety measures in a small area, this event is over 8km event where people can be spread out. So if we are not sure of the safety of our swimmers, we are not prepared to take the risks.”
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said EHP wildlife officers con- tinued to undertake weekly surveys in search of the wandering reptile.
Two helicopter searches have been conducted and CCTV footage from the Port of Townsville has been reviewed on a number of occasions.
The last confirmed sighting of the crocodile was on June 7 at the Townsville marina.
“The physical characteristics, behaviour and movement patterns of this animal have always suggested that it is likely to be sick and without its own territory,” the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said there were still two traps in place at Alligator Creek, one at the Townsville marina and one at Stuart Creek.
None had been triggered since a 1.9m crocodile was captured at Stuart Creek. That animal has been relocated to Melaleuca Crocodile Farm.
“EHP wildlife officers will continue to be vigilant and to carry out their regular patrols but the threat to the Townsville community is currently the same as it has always been,” the spokeswoman said.
Crocodile sightings can be reported to EHP on 1300 130 372.
If we are not sure of the safety of our swimmers, we are not prepared to take the risks JOHN BARRETT
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