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  • Great work Dan.
    I know little about music, except I love it.
    I understand more about harmonics and sense it without knowing the jargon of music.

    I did have a concern when you mentioned the PFD.
    They are pretty much useless to us here.
    Well, in the harbour or open sea they may be OK, if you're lucky.
    But outside of that forget it. Other options?



    I used to take tourists in a 24 seater on the East Alligator as part of the local aboriginal tour operations out there in Kakadu. I was the tour ops manager for a year. Went out there to help them out. Basically damage control and fixing things after a decent cyclone put paid to many elements of infrastructure and accessibility to points of interest. Bit hard to chainsaw 3000 trees just to get through. No heavy equipment allowed. Several seasons of bushfire regime would have to fix some of those issues.
    I ended up having to run quite a few vehicle and boat tours myself when someone or another had gone walk-a-bout.
    Though I explained to the visiting folks that I was an adoptee-lineal to these mob, (yes, that is correct in pidgin; these mob) and I had grown up visiting family here before it was a national park, before any of those bitumen roads and bridges were built for the uranium mine, before tourism. And my pidgin is perfect, so they didn't mind at all.

    The East, South and West Alligator rivers were named by Some Silly Fella, way back when.
    Thought they were alligators.
    This is croc country.
    The crocs brain is not very big either.
    But from what we understand, around 90 percent of it is devoted to search effort and all the calculations that go into that.
    They don't waste energy. Very conservative party fellas.
    Too much energy expended for extended periods will produce lactic acid.
    At too high a level that is detrimental to them.
    Maybe they get a migraine or something, in the extreme they will die.
    Too much energy wasted also means less available for the next run.
    So they calculate.
    They like bright colours too. Most PFDs are brightly coloured.
    The croc will win in a fight with a PFD!
    And with a human with a PFD!
    PFDs are not your friends here.
    The crocs are extremely efficient predators.
    If they choose to go you, the final movement, The Lunge, from the water, that decision is based on around a 99.99% estimate that they will get you. And if you happen to be in the water, well it's all over red rover. No lunge involved there, just a methodical, smooth, calm, calculated, closing of distance.

    Those famous images of crocs on the surface targeting wildebeest in Africa - the crocs know they don't have to hide there, in that seasonal situation. They already know the wildebeests are thirsty, and also need to cross the river. The crocs are brazen. In different scenarios or outside of that season, observe.

    The croc has a built in GPS and dead-reckoning skills that are dead on!
    We have watched a croc submerge, cross around one hundred meters of river perpendicular to an outgoing tide of huge knots, caused by an eight metre tidal range, to surface within two metres of its target of interest, a brightly coloured buoy on a crab pot, previously submerged, but exposed by falling tide.
    If they can see you on top, they will get you real quick.
    In nature they watch and wait. That's why we always go to different spots to get water, and use a bucket with a lanyard. You can't see them, they can see you, moving against the light, sun or moon.
    Depending on the size of the croc, the first bouncing lunge will carry him around three metres. You have a split second to act if he misses you, before he decides whether a second lunge is worth it or not. There is a small assessment pause in there. Best you take advantage of it. Anyway, I tell the visitors to stay at least five metres away from the water's edge where we operate, just in case it's a bloody big croc.
    Obese crocodiles in cold environments with conditioned behaviour in 'entertaining' zoos will not give you a full idea of how dangerous they actually are. Or how fast they can actually move in the wild.

    Before we set out on the boat, we have to do the mandatory safety spiel.
    I presented all the usual stuff, then get to the PFDs. Last.

    'Folks, they are your life jackets, above your head.
    We are not going to need them.
    Crocs love that bright yellow colour, or any bright colour.
    That has been tested and experienced by the pearlers and the fisherpeople around here
    who often find their brightly coloured buoys mauled.
    Those lifejackets will keep you on the surface. Good if you can't swim.
    Not so good here, where there is a sizable croc every 20 to 30 metres or so.
    Highest population density of crocs in Australia, in this river.
    If you are on the surface, they'll go you in a flash.
    We will not have any problems today folks.
    If we do start to get that sinking feeling, don't panic, stay seated, I will ram the bow up on the nearest bank. Provided the motors are still working. You may notice we have two motors. Just in case. We take our mate Justin with us everywhere around here.
    If we don't make the bank, all I can do is tell you now, what I would do.
    I'd forget that lifejacket, or better still, throw it the opposite way you intend to go.
    And I would swim under water, using calm, methodical strokes.
    Because it's a lot harder for them to locate you down there, in this turbid water.
    They have sonar, in the scutes on the back of their neck, and they will use it.
    But they have to be a lot closer to you to effectively home in.
    So that process gives you more time to stay calm. Hopefully.
    Anyway, it's very important that you please keep your hands inside the boat.
    I'll be telling you more about those fellas and all the other cool stuff as we go.
    So lets go! We're gonna have a lovely day! I'm looking forward to it! Hope you are!'

    We saw croc action of all different sorts on that river. And the folks loved it.
    It's within a national park, actually a boundary of the park. So thank goodness they don't do any of that silly human-induced jumping-crocodile stuff that they do on another river. Yeah they can jump, and do so occasionally in the wild.
    And while the crocs are a focal point, there is heaps of fascinating stuff we shared with the visitors.
    They loved it all.
    Have you ever seen a crocodile sing?
    There's one song they sing where we can't hear it, but we can see it.
    It's music to them.

    ..............

    Pictures:
    Big Bill's granddaughter Natasha Nardji assisting with running repairs
    just to make sure we are one step ahead of them croc fellas.
    Photo by Joe I think, on my camera.

    Driving the boat I never got many opportunities to catch the action on film. This one is a territorial dispute. We'd see them fight over pigs and wallabies and even come up with sting-rays as well as the fish. At the right time you can observe smorgasbord sessions when the large schools of fish on the incoming tide cross the man-made barrage (low-level river crossing) with up to twenty crocs waiting on the other side. Hey fishy! I would jump too, with that fella after me!
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