A crocodile warning sign at Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A crocodile warning sign at Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

Croc’s days in lake numbered after attack on swimmer

UPDATE: Wildlife officers are pulling out all the stops to catch a 2.5m crocodile which attacked a swimmer at Cairns' Lake Placid.

Paramedics say the 44-year-old man was "very lucky" to have escaped with superficial injuries after he was forced to prise the crocodile's jaws from his head on Thursday.

Dr Matthew Brien, program coordinator for northern wildlife operations with the Department of Environment and Science, said there was no doubt a crocodile was responsible.

"We have seen the injuries, the nature of the injuries, and we've seen the animal in the area," he said.

Dr Matthew Brien, program co-ordinator for northern wildlife operations with the Department of Environment and Science, said there was no doubt a crocodile was responsible for the attack on a 44-year-old man at Lake Placid. Picture: Bronwyn Farr.
Dr Matthew Brien, program co-ordinator for northern wildlife operations with the Department of Environment and Science, said there was no doubt a crocodile was responsible for the attack on a 44-year-old man at Lake Placid. Picture: Bronwyn Farr.

 

"The man was incredibly lucky, as it was a 2.5m crocodile which is common size for non-fatal attacks - if it was a 4m croc, and 1km down from there there's one that commonly hangs out, if it was to grab hold of him, then the outcome would have been a fatality," Dr Brien said.

"The chances of surviving an attack from a 4m crocodile are zero."

He said the crocodile, aged around 8 to 10 years, had realised the size of its prey and given up the fight.

"If it was a 4m animal it would have been a different story," he said.

Authorities removed a crocodile from Lake Placid almost exactly a year ago and were aware crocodiles resided in the lake.

 

Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

 

"We tend to be removing crocodiles in and around that size at least once or twice a year," Dr Brien said.

"When a crocodile is removed, another one takes its place, and we see that on the northern beaches - it's not the same crocodile for 10 years, its multiple crocodiles.

"If an animal poses a threat to public safety, we don't muck around, so we are going to find the most efficient and expedient way to remove that animal," he said.

A crocodile was spotted from about 100m away during searches at Lake Placid on Thursday night but not captured.

The department confirmed the search would resume Friday morning and would continue on Friday night if the animal wasn't located.

 

 

Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Lake Placid. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

 

EARLIER: A MAN's terrifying tale of survival has been recounted moments after he had to prise a crocodile's jaws from his head during an attack at a popular Far North waterway.

Critical care paramedic Paul Sweeney said the 44-year-old man was lucky to be alive following the harrowing ordeal at Lake Placid in Caravonica at 12.45pm on Thursday.

He said the man was conscious when ambulance crews arrived - and lucky to be alive.

"There was definite evidence of puncture wounds through his scalp to the right side of his head from either the upper or lower jaw," he said.

"There were additional puncture wounds, then, to the left angle of the jaw, the cheekbone there and the jaw, corresponding to a bite which the … the animal has bitten his head with jaws either side.

Recent crocodile sighting warning signs erected at Lake Placid, following the confirmed sighting of a 2m saltwater crocodile. Photo: Daniel Bateman
Recent crocodile sighting warning signs erected at Lake Placid, following the confirmed sighting of a 2m saltwater crocodile. Photo: Daniel Bateman


"He also had some minor puncture wounds to his right shoulder."

Mr Sweeney said the "fit" man was doing swimming training in the water when he felt "this sudden impact clasp on the top of his head".

"He put his hands into the jaws to prise them off his head, and when he did so and let go, the jaw snapped shut onto his left forefinger, which wasn't broken or severed thankfully … " he said.

"There was minimal blood loss, all his vital signs were good, he's a fit individual as I said, and he was very grateful that it was not as serious as it could have been.

"He took what he described as a slow swim back to the bank where he was able to drag himself out of the water.

"He was obviously concerned, making that swim, that the animal would come up and attack him again but thankfully it didn't.

"He was able to get help."

 

FILE PHOTO: A large saltwater crocodile. The one that attacked a swimmer at Lake Placid was smaller - about 2.5m.
FILE PHOTO: A large saltwater crocodile. The one that attacked a swimmer at Lake Placid was smaller - about 2.5m.

 

Mr Sweeney said the man was closer to death than he might have realised.

"When you consider that, had the crocodile bitten into his neck or his throat where the major blood vessels are, then it could have been a fatality," he said.

"Thankfully that didn't occur.

"Your skull is pretty hard and there was no breaks or fractures or punctures to the skull, this was merely scalp injuries and to the side of his cheekbone there and his shoulder and his finger.

"So he's a very lucky man because it could have been significantly worse."

He was treated for his wounds at the scene and taken to Cairns Hospital for further treatment.

"He will require stitches or gluing, and also he'll need those wounds cleaned out thoroughly because crocodiles' mouths are notorious for infection," Mr Sweeney said.

"He's expected to make a full recovery.

"He's quite a robust individual who insisted that he'd be back swimming there soon, so a braver man than I."

The Department of Environment and Science confirmed wildlife officers were investigating the attack.

"Wildlife officers will conduct a site assessment of Lake Placid and seek further information about the attack to assist with the removal of the animal," the department said in a statement.

"Under the Queensland Crocodile Management Plan, Lake Placid is within Zone B (Active Removal Zone).

"This means that any crocodile confirmed to be present is targeted for removal by DES and its contractors.

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

"The Wet Season is breeding time for estuarine crocodiles and they may behave more aggressively and become more territorial at this time."

The department reminded people that Lake Placid and the Cairns region was "known croc country" and urged people in the area to always be croc-wise.

Originally published as Croc's days in lake numbered after attack on swimmer


Man flown to hospital after motorbike accident

Premium Content Man flown to hospital after motorbike accident

He struck a tree stump causing him to fall forward off his motorbike.

Emerald District Court: appearance list for today

Premium Content Emerald District Court: appearance list for today

Here is a list of District Court criminal sittings at Emerald on nan

Grandstanding, petty Premier ignores facts: Frydenberg

Premium Content Grandstanding, petty Premier ignores facts: Frydenberg

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg fires back at Annastacia Palaszczuk over JobKeeper