PIC OF THE MONTH


Crocodilian images which reveal fascinating stories told from a visual perspective.



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Tin Opener

Adam showing a baby crocodile what her dad just did!

Working with crocodiles can be a pretty dangerous past-time! After all, adult crocs can quite easily kill you, or at the very least injure you seriously if you're not paying attention and don't respect their incredible power and speed. Just every once in a while, it pays to be reminded of this, as this month's Pic of the Month illustrates.

The incident occurred during the filming of a BBC Science documentary on the crocodile's immune system. The aim was to catch a number of wild crocodiles, take blood samples, and then release them. The blood would be examined to look for evidence of antibiotic factors, but I knew that catching the crocs was the fun part! In this case, we'd got a line on an impressively large 4 metre adult male, and he was quite happy towing us around the river at his leisure. Eventually, we pulled him towards the boat. Once alongside, he suddenly rolled in the water and grabbed the side of the boat in his jaws. The whole boat lurched crazily, tossing us about while we flailed around for the handrail. A quick twist and bite, and the croc peeled the hull open like a tin opener.

what big teeth you've gotIt would be easy to milk this story for all it's worth, claiming the croc was 6 metres long, nearly tipped the boat over, tore a 3 metre hole in the hull and tried to eat us all! However, none of that was true - the croc was simply trying to escape from us, and you can't blame it really. Once it had something it could bite, it did just that! Fear didn't enter our minds, but rather a sense of excitement (no, really!). I was rather hoping the BBC got it on film (they did), and immediately thought it was rather cool to have been attacked by a crocodile in a boat! The guy driving the boat was more concerned about how much it was going to cost to patch up the hole. After releasing the crocodile from the line, we raced back to the nearest dock before we started to take on too much water.

The top photograph shows the author, Adam Britton, holding a hatchling saltwater crocodile next to the hole which her father made! We found one of the crocodile's teeth embedded in the metal on the underside of the boat - a souvenir which he let us keep to remind us of our place on the river.

If you live in the UK, you can see the actual bite take place by watching "The Secret Life of Crocodiles" on BBC1 at 8.00pm on Wednesday 31st May 2000. The program follows my idea that the crocodile's immune system contains something rather special, through the collection of blood samples, towards the final discovery that simply blew us away. The program will air on the Discovery Channel in the US and around the world later in the year.


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