November 2003
Satellite Technology To Help Plot Crocs

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The Courier Mail 24 November 2004



News Source: The Courier Mail, page 6, Monday 24th November, 2004

Far north Queensland crocodiles are about to give up thousands of years of secrets to satellite technology.

Croc Hunter Steve Irwin has spent the past few weeks at Nesbit River, northwest of Coen on Cape York Peninsula, helping wire crocs up to the satellite age.

The tracking research, pioneered by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the University of Queensland, will play a fundamental role in understanding how big crocs roam around their territory. n

With help from the QPWS and Dennis “Brazakka” Wallace from Cape York Helicopters, Irwin fitted four large male crocs with satellite transmitters, allowing scientists to monitor them by computer.

The smallest crocodile, nick-named “Banana”, was used in an experiment to see if crocodiles displayed a homing ability when moved from their territory.

Banana was moved more than 50km from his waterhole and released back into the sea. After spending two weeks moving apparently randomly up and down the coast, he made a beeline for his waterhole and eventually travelled more than 3.5km over land to get there.

“Supercroc”, the largest croc to receive a transmitter, spent two weeks in the river before heading out to sea.

He is now headed south along the coast.

“With satellite technology, not only can we watch the movements of these crocodiles from our computers, but we can calculate how much space they use, how often they move and how they interact with other animals in the same area,” Dr Mark Read of QPWS said.

He said the Nesbit River project was part of a larger research project to track the movement patterns of big crocodiles and their space and habitat requirements.

Irwin said the project was successful largely due to the use a helicopter.

“Brazakka has an intimate knowledge of the location of many of these big crocodiles and his experience of Cape York and flying skills made him a natural inclusion in the project team,” Irwin said.

Brazakka, who ferries people to the far north every week, said he had seen thousands of crocs swimming out to sea from his vantage point.