Annabel Bowles

Tropic Now journalist

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"Devastating" string of croc attacks, calls for change

A string of saltwater crocodile attacks in the Far North recently has riled up pollies and locals alike.

In late January, a 56-year-old man wrestled a saltie’s jaws from his head while swimming in Lake Placid.

Less than a week later another man survived an attack in Weipa, in the Cape York peninsula.

The Hinchinbrook Island incident is presumed to be the first crocodile fatality in the state since 2017.

There's less than three weeks between the three attacks. 

State Member for Hinchinbrook, Nick Dametto, told Tropic Now he’s noticed the number and behaviour of crocodiles change since the 70s.  

“To have a fatal attack right there in our backyard … it’s devastating,” MP Dametto said.

“Although people are saying the boat was too small for that area, the thing is that croc numbers are increasing and they’re more brazen than ever.

“They’re not phased by humans anymore, they don’t have a reason to fear us."

“They see us as food.”  

MP Dametto said the Katter's Australian Party (KAP) will reintroduce the Safer Waterways Bill to parliament this year.

“The crux of the bill is to increase safety around populated areas, which is only about 18 per cent of Queensland,” he said.

“This would be done by managing the species better through commercial harvesting, just like we do with mud crabs and barramundi.

“Their biomass is in such a state that it would be sustainable to take them from the fishery.

"They are the apex predator and they’re not in any danger of becoming extinct.”

Mr Dametto also said the party is pushing for the establishment of a North Queensland crocodile authority.

“At the moment the DES officers, based in Brisbane, are making the decisions when it comes to crocodile removals,” he said.

“They’re not living with the problem, we are … and that’s something locals have a real issue with.”

All crocodiles that pose a threat to human safety are targeted for removal by the DES under the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan.

The DES provided the graph below detailing the total number of crocodile removals in Queensland across a ten-year period. 

While the data from 2020 onwards is yet to be published, there were thirteen removals throughout January and February last year.


The weekend prior to the Hinchinbrook Island attack, a viral video emerged showing a crocodile snap up a shark at Cardwell Beach.

Despite the close proximity of the two sightings, MP Dametto said he doesn’t believe that either of the crocodiles involved in the Hinchinbrook Island incident are the same as the one spotted at Cardwell.

“The local knowledge is that the crocodiles involved in the recent attack are known to the area," he said. 

“They were thought to live in that area and they’re usually pretty territorial.

“The crocodile spotted at Cardwell actually looks like it could be a bit bigger than the four-metre croc caught at Hinchinbrook.”

A DES spokesperson told Tropic Now the species are "highly mobile" and there is a chance it could be the same crocodile.

“It could be the same animal but (it’s) difficult to determine, as crocodiles look alike,” they said.