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Reef Report for Friday, January 12, 2007

Policeman Survives Crocodile Attack
Attacked in remote part of Australia while snorkeling.

Attacks by crocodiles anywhere in the world are sensational, and usually bad news for all involved, so in this case itís nice to report that a tragedy was avoided.

In this case the person attacked was a policeman, 37-year old Sergeant Jeff Tanswell. © Townsville Bulletin Sgt. Taswell is currently stationed at Thursday Island, a remote community at the very northern tip of Austalia. His former posting was in Cairns, which is why the story got headline coverage in the local papers here.

Seargant Taswell was snorkeling on January 9th with a number of off-duty police officers on a fringing coral reef just 15 metres off Mt Adolphus Island, a remote island about 40km from Thursday Island. He was approached from behind by a 3 metre crocodile, who grabbed him by the head and dragged him under the water, only to resurface quickly nearby.

His wife Jane, a senior constable with the police, was in a boat nearby an saw the attack happen. With a cool head she immediately maneuvered the boat between the crocodile and her husband, and assisted him onto the boat, then picked the rest of the group up out of the water. The crocodile disappeared into deeper water.

Seargent Taswell was treated for wounds to his face and ear, then released. Everyone involved praised Sr. Constable Jane Taswell for her cool head and quick thinking, itís hard to imagine what was going through her mind during the attack, and this author wonders if he could have been anywhere near as effective if ever involved in such an incident.

An interesting angle to the story has emerged on the day after the incident, Isaac Savage, an Aboriginal with the tribal role of traditional caretaker of the island where Sgt. Treadwell was attacked said that the attack was the result of the snorkeling group visiting the island without appeasing the spirits of the island. While he sympathized with the attack victim, Isaac said thet the spirits of the island donít like anyone going there without the proper permission and ritual.

Crocodile attacks do occur in remote areas of Australia. Crocodile populations are monitored and managed in more densely populated areas such as Townsville, Cairns, and Port Douglas to protect the public. Crocodiles over a certain size are removed from these areas. We do urge all visitors to the area to be croc safe, and follow the local and published guidelines.

Townsville Bulletin coverage of this story.

Cairns Post coverage of this story.

Herald Sun coverage of this story .

Guidelines to living with Crocodiles .

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

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