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Crocodile attacks in Australia have occurred in the Northern Territory[1] and Queensland[2]/ Nearly all crocodile attacks are caused by the Saltwater Crocodile, with the Freshwater Crocodile being smaller and less likely to attack.



In northern Australia (which includes the top ends of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland) the Saltwater Crocodile is thriving, particularly in the multiple river systems near Darwin (such as the Adelaide, Mary and Daly Rivers, along with their adjacent billabongs and estuaries) where exceptionally large (6 meter +) individuals are not uncommon. A rough estimate states that the Australian Saltwater Crocodile population stands somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 adults. Their range extends from Broome in Western Australia through the entire Northern Territory coast all the way down to Rockhampton in Queensland.

Number of attacks

There are, on average, no more than one or two fatal attacks reported per year in the country.[3] The low level of attacks is most likely due to the extensive effort by local wildlife officials to post crocodile warning signs at nearly every billabong, river, lake and even at some beaches and also due to the relatively well-informed nature of the local citizens. In the Aboriginal community of Arnhem Land, which occupies roughly half of the top end of the Northern Territory, attacks may go unreported and may be more common.

Between 1971 and 2004 there were 62 crocodile attacks recorded, 17 of which were fatal. 39 of the attacks were in the Northern Territory (10 fatal), 15 in Queensland (5 fatal) and 8 in Western Australia (2 fatal).[4] Of these attacks, the highest numbers occurred between September and December, although there was at least one in each month.[5] All of the fatal attacks occurred while in water, rather than in a boat or on land.[6]

Between June 1981 to June 1991 there were 16 crocodile attacks reported in the Northern Territory, four of which were fatal.[7]

Warning signs

Crocodile warning signs are posted at many billabongs, rivers, lakes and some beaches in northern Queensland and the Northern Territory.

In culture

Crocodile attacks in Australia have been the topic of several television shows and films, both fictional and documentaries. Crocodile Dundee was the second highest grossing film in America in 1986 and most successful film in the US foreign market.[8] It was followed by two sequels in 1988 and 2001. The television documentary show Crocodile Hunter starring Steve Irwin was an international success[9], and Steve also made the Croc Files show and The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course movie. Also about crocodile attacks was the 2008 thriller Black Water.

Fatal attacks

Below is a list of fatal crocodile attacks that occurred in Australia in reverse chronological order.



Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
11yo male 2009 Northern Territory [10]
5 year old boy Feb 8 2009 Queensland 4.3 metre crocodile[10]
62 yo man September 2008 Queensland while checking crab pots [10]
37 yo Canadian mine worker Sep 24 2005 Picnic Beach, south of Umbakumba, disappeared while snorkelling [1]
22yo male Dec 2003 Finniss River, 80 km SW of Darwin [11]
23yo male (German tourist) 2002 Kakadu, while swimming in water-hole [2]


Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
Aboriginal man 1998 Roper River [3]
male 1997 Daly River, while crossing river at night [4]
crocodile handler 1994 North Queensland, at a crocodile farm [5]
male 1990 Groote Eylandt, while swimming to houseboat [6]
male 1988 Cato River [7]
female american model 1987 Prince Regent River, while swimming at waterfall [8]
female 17 March 1987 Cahills Crossing, East Alligator River, Kakadu [12]
female 1986 Van Rook Creek near Karumba [9]
43yo female 1985 Daintree River [10]
10yo male 1983 Barron River, while swimming [11]
Alamarayu, young woman 1915 Victor Creek, Melville Island, also reported three others lost to crocodiles in the same location in the three years before[13]

Before 1900

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
male 1892 He was commissioned to capture two crocodiles, belongings were found in a mangrove-fringed island in Linchinbrook Passage [14]

Non-fatal attacks

Some non-fatal attacks which have appeared in reliable sources are listed below.

Name, age Date Species Location; Comments
10yo girl Oct 2005 Doubtful Bay, attacked while swimming in the early afternoon. [12]
19yo male Nov 2003 Blyth River, croc tried to drag him into creek, it let go when his aunt punched the croc in the snout.[13]
female 1985 East Alligator River, Croc death rolled her twice before she managed to escape. Found by rangers with serious injuries. [14]
20yo girl Sep 1952 Arukun, Cape York, father rescued girl from crocodile by gouging its eyes out[15]
23yo male Oct 1948 creek near Berry Springs, in five feet of water, went in to collect fish he had been shooting, noticed crocodile and fired two shots at it but gun jammed. Friend killed it when it was three feet from him.[16]
young man Jan 1929 Cairns, while swimming in 18 inches of water in swimming enclosure[17]

See also


  1. ^ Management Program for the Saltwater Crocodile, Northern Territory Government
  2. ^ Crocodiles, Queensland Government, Environment and Resource Management
  3. ^ Crocodile Attack in Australia: An Analysis of Its Incidence and Review of the Pathology and Management of Crocodilian Attacks in General
  4. ^ Crocodile Attack in Australia: An Analysis of Its Incidence and Review of the Pathology and Management of Crocodilian Attacks in General Table 1. Saltwater crocodile attacks in the wild, in northern Australia, 1971-2004, BioOne Online Journals
  5. ^ Crocodile Attack in Australia: An Analysis of Its Incidence and Review of the Pathology and Management of Crocodilian Attacks in General Table 4. Months in which saltwater crocodile attacks have occurred in northern Australia
  6. ^ Crocodile Attack in Australia: An Analysis of Its Incidence and Review of the Pathology and Management of Crocodilian Attacks in General Table 3. Activities of people (62 attacks, 64 people) at the time of attack by saltwater crocodiles, 1971-2004
  7. ^ Crocodile attacks in the Northern Territory of Australia. Medical Journal of Australia 1992 Dec 7-21;157(11-12):751-4.
  8. ^ "Fair Dinkum Fillums": the Crocodile Dundee Phenomenon
  9. ^ The croc star who outshone Dundee The Age September 5, 2006
  10. ^ a b c Police confirm Australian girl killed by crocodile Mar 18 2009
  11. ^ Friends witness crocodile killing, BBC News 23 December, 2003
  12. ^ See Australia and Die tales of misadventure down under p.154 by Wendy Lewis, Chatswood, N.S.W.: New Holland, 2007.
  13. ^ Native Woman's adventure, a desperate struggle Argus 29 May 1915
  14. ^ The Risks of Alligator hunting Argus 14 July 1892
  15. ^ Girl snatched from jaws of crocodile The Canberra Times Friday 26 September 1952
  16. ^ Man has narrow escape from crocodile The Canberra Times Tuesday 26 October 1948
  17. ^ Mauled by crocodile Queensland Horror Man's Condition Serious The Canberra Times 26 January 1929

External links


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