AS PART of his ongoing research into fresh water crocodiles in Baffle Creek, a CQuniverity student has started swimming and interacting with them in their environment.
In January, the NewsMail reported that environmental science student Leslie Lowe had set up infrared cameras along the Baffle Creek area to establish habitat range and population sizes of the Johnson fresh water crocodiles.
Mr Lowe said to date, 50m was as close as he had been able to get to the crocodiles.
"The plan is to get them used to my scent and presence so they will not perceive me as a threat," he said.
"The larger ones can be a little territorial especially in breeding season (August), but are generally very shy and evasive.
"It is an absolute rush getting in the water with these beauties."
Mr Lowe said he had not located any detrimental introduced species of fish such as Carp Tapia - which were decimating some of our river systems.
"This highlights the beneficial effect of introducing an aquatic apex predator into the food chain, maintaining balance and biodiversity within the ecosystem."
"Research at Yellowstone Park in the United States has proven the beneficial effects of reintroducing an apex predator the Timber Wolf which helps by removing feral animals from the ecosystem."
Mr Lowe said the Gippsland Water Dragon (pictured) could form part of the diet of fresh water crocodiles although they preferred insects and crustaceans at an early age and size before moving up to larger fish and birds.
"That photo also shows what is known as tail thrashing by the 2m female in frame, which helps in body heating but also, seems to attract curious animals like the Water Dragon," he said.
"Lucky he didn't get to close or he might have ended up as lunch."
Mr Lowe said babies should start hatching this month which would allow him to gleam insight into their nesting behaviours.
"Some of the nests have been raided by feral pigs in the area," he said
"The hatching event will provide more data on numbers and survival rates within the population."