Crocs on march towards Coast after spate of sightings
THEIR bite can rival a T-rex and they can swim 60km per day, they're arguably Australia's greatest predator, lurking just north of the Sunshine Coast.
Several crocodiles have been spotted near the Coast in recent weeks, begging the question, what is stopping them coming into our waters?
Gladstone's Boyne River is said to be the cut-off point for croc country but the reptiles are mobile creatures often travelling south seeking out new territory.
The Mary River, between Gympie and Hervey Bay, is a known hotspot and crocs have been already been seen in the river this year.
Crocs have also been spotted, but unconfirmed, on Fraser Island as well.
Last year in January there were two unconfirmed sightings in Mount Coolum and Maroochy rivers to go with a case at Currimundi Lake in 2013.
So why are the reptiles stopping short of the Sunshine Coast? Is it the habitat, the food supply, or mother nature?
Australia Zoo croc handler Toby Millyard essentially said all of the above.
"Crocodiles are a shy and secretive animal, an apex predator who pray on the slow and weak," Mr Millyard said.
"They like to eat and make babies. But nesting and breeding habitats on the Coast are not optimum.
"Boy crocs aren't going to come here, neither are girls. The Sunshine Coast is a booming place but we have too much development for them.
"Places like Fraser Island and Mary River for example, are far better suited."
Recent croc sightings in the Sunshine Coast region
- 31/03/13 Currimundi Lake
- 30/05/15 King Fisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island
- 23/06/15 Open Water, Fraser Island
- 08/01/15 Mary River, Gympie Weir
- 19/01/15 Big Tuan Creek, Maryborough
- 21/02/15 Mary River, Maryborough
- 07/04/15 Ocean Lake, Fraser Island
- 11/04/15 Fraser Island, Poona
- 24/10/15 Mary River, Maryborough
- 11/04/16 Tinana Creek, Maryborough
- 22/04/16 Mary River, Maryborough
- 12/06/16 Beaver's Rock, Maryborough
- 08/12/16 Mary River, Gympie
- 03/01/17 Paynter Creek, Mt Coolum
- 13/01/17 Maroochy River, Maroochydore
- 19/02/17 Saltwater Creek, Maryborough
- 06/03/17 Mary River, Maryborough
- 12/02/18 West Fraser Island
- 12/03/18 Little Tuan Creek, Boonooroo
Mr Millyard did however, refuse to rule anything out.
"Crocs can swim up to 60km per day and are a smart species," he said.
"There are no barriers in the ocean to stop them, so never say never.
"Nothing is impossible - I just don't foresee it in my lifetime."
Wildlife HQ reptile keeper Matthew George said most croc sightings on the Coast were mistaken identity.
Mr George said the possibility of crocs on the Sunshine Coast was highly unlikely but not impossible.
"The vast majority are mistaken for large goannas, the only one I am aware of was at Caboolture and that was an escaped pet," Mr George said.
"Most end up being lace monitors - the way they swim is quite similar and can grow to a decent size. Most people see a flash and think it's a croc.
"Fraser and the Mary River is probably as low as they can go.
"Experts in the field predict crocs to come further south in the future, but there's been no evidence of it yet."
Wildlife HQ will soon welcome its newest addition to the reptile park - a two-metre saltwater croc for the first time.
Until now the centre has only kept fresh water or alligators.
So until the our waters well and truly become croc friendly, zoos will remain the best chance to see one in the flesh.