Fresh water crocs in Baffle Creek
A RECENT study has revealed that we have fresh water crocodiles in Baffle Creek and could see their population increase as temperatures rise.
CQUniversity environmental science student Leslie Lowe said the ongoing study involved setting up infrared cameras along the Baffle Creek area, to establish habitat range and population sizes of the Johnson fresh water crocodiles.
He said the findings were significant because it showed the crocodiles had adapted and survived in cooler southern waters as apposed to tropical northern climates.
"Their population is increasing if my research is accurate," he said.
"We are thinking the Johnson River croc would have been a lot more prolific in these areas about 40,000 years ago.
"Up in the northern rivers, the salties tend to keep them confined to the fresh water areas because they will use them as a food source."
Mr Lowe said freshwater crocodiles were smaller than their salt water counterparts with an adult male growing to about 3m in length and having a lifespan of about 80 years.
They also tend to be lighter in colour with larger scale patterns.
Mr Lowe said he believes the fresh water crocodiles were brought down by American soldiers based in northern Australia during the Second World War.
"When the American soldiers were over here they had bases in Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville regions," he said.
"A lot of them were gator boys from southern parts of the US and each regiment took on native animals as their mascots, including fresh water crocs.
"We daresay when the soldiers have been deployed down here, they brought the crocs down and let them go into the wild."
Mr Lowe said it was geographically impossible for the crocodiles to have made it here by their own volition given the nature of the Great Dividing Range, which separates the coast from the inland.
"However, with many croc farm areas established along the eastern seaboard, flooding may have moved them from commercial ventures," he said.
Mr Lowe said fresh water crocodiles sightings would become more commonplace in this region including within the Burnett River.
"There would definitely be fresh water crocs in the Burnett River," he said.
"However, there numbers will mainly be limited by the cold water but will increase with the warming temperatures."
Mr Lowe hoped to attract more funding for tagging and tracking the crocodiles for further research.