Tourists say they are being tempted into croc infested Top End rivers by carefree local residents.
In the Northern Territory outback town of Katherine, crocodile captures are in record sizes and numbers.
Sixteen dangerous saltwater crocs have been pulled from the local river this year alone, one a monster as long as the family car.
Yesterday, a 3.4m male saltwater crocodile was trapped at popular fishing spot, Galloping Jacks, 20km downstream from the town.
This year alone, 16 salties have been pulled out of the river as part of a wider management plan, including a monster 60-year-old croc as long as the average family car.
Disregarding warning signs, tourists visiting the town’s hot spots are copying locals who have been ignoring expert warnings.
With dry season temperatures reaching more than 30 degrees, the many tourists escaping winter in the south, are lured into the clear water.
NT Parks and Wildlife rangers, on a mission to spread their croc wise message, visited a popular swimming hole yesterday to show off the latest capture as a shocking warning.
The warning came at just the right moment for a German couple who were considering a refreshing dip after seeing a local family in the water.
Despite a clear warning sign, the couple said they thought they could trust local knowledge.
Mayr and Rasidea Gunther said it was pretty common for tourists to assume waterways are safe if others are swimming.
“We thought they knew what they were doing,” Mr Gunther said.
“There is a sign but it is not enough to stop people swimming,” he said.
NT Parks and Wildlife rangers, who see first hand just how dangerous the pre-historic beasts really are, said they were shocked tourists and locals are still taking the risk.
“People think they can trust local knowledge, they think they can get away with it if there are other people swimming,” NT Parks and Wildlife Ranger Erin Britton said.
“But that is just a false sense of security,” she said.
To make matters worse, crocodiles are moving closer to the town in search of food.
“In estuaries where there are a lot of fish crocodiles are happy to stay put, but in these marginal habitats there is less food,” ranger Britton said.
“We are seeing crocodiles moving up here from their favorite places in search of something to eat.
“If he is a hungry croc he’ll take any risk for his survival,” she said.
The Katherine family of three who were swimming at the popular tourist spot when rangers turned up with the large and deadly crocodile said they have lived in the area for 30 years.
They said swimming in the river with their small child was not concerning, even after a confronting look at the dangerous predator.
“We know a lot of people who swim here, which makes us feel safer,” the mother said.
“If we are swimming and other people follow us it is at their own risk,” she said.
The family said they wished to remain anonymous after realising others would view their actions as risky and irresponsible, they said.