Updated: Does The Great Barrier Reef Have Crocodiles? Yes is the new answer

crocodile at the great barrier reef

Crocodile spotted at the Great Barrier Reef!

I wrote this article several months ago when there was no evidence that a crocodile had visited the outer Great Barrier Reef, today that changed.

On the 31/01/2020, this was posted on Facebook by Quicksilver Cruises;

crocodile at the great barrier reef, quicksilver cruises, agincourt reef

“Well, now that’s not something you see every day – or EVER!

In a testament to the Great Barrier Reef’s ability to attract visitors from all over the world, our guests today on our Agincourt Reef pontoon got a once in a lifetime surprise when this keen snorkeller popped by for a visit.

That’s about 40kms off the mainland! More than likely swept out to sea during the recent rains, this is the first time any of our very salty sea dogs have ever heard of anyone encountered a crocodile on Agincourt reef. A marine parks and wildlife team have the situation under control and our team acted to make sure no one was ever in any danger.

Services will not be affected, however, we continue to reserve to right not to serve any semi-aquatic reptiles at the bar.”

(Photo credit: Indepth VideoOpens in a new tab., Dave Barger)

The crocodile was reportedly 1.5m in size and didn’t bother anyone. Many people happily swam along beside it and said they had no fear. The poor little guy was clearly lost.

crocodile at the great barrier reef
crocodile at the great barrier reef

Original Article

To put it simply, no, there are no crocodiles in the tourist accessible parts of the Great Barrier Reef.

However, that is not saying that there are no crocodiles at the Great Barrier Reef.  In fact, there are plenty if you are talking about the wider Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

You see, the marine park is enormous and comes really close to the coastline in some areas which does make it accessible for crocs.  Fear not, if you are coming here as a tourist to experience the reef because all boat companies will take you a long way offshore to reefs that do not have crocs.

Does the Great Barrier Reef have crocodiles?

Here are a couple of major reasons why crocodiles don’t venture out far into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park;

They like dirty water

The murkier the water is, the easier it is for them to hunt.  They would find catching reef fish in the clear waters of the outer reef very difficult.

They are lazy

Crocodiles spend most of their time laying around in the sun and rarely swim long distances.

great barrier reef crocodile

They become prey in the ocean

Yep, they get eaten by large sharks.  A slow 5-meter saltwater crocodile swimming along the surface of the ocean will get smashed from below by a predator which is much better adapted to suit the environment.  A 5-meter croc stands no chance against a 4-meter tiger shark.

Bear in mind we are talking about the open stretches of deep water on the way to the reef here, there are not 4-meter crocodile killing tiger sharks in the snorkelling areas.

They are easy to spot

Crocs normally swim along the surface which makes them easy to see in clear water from the air.  Considering how many scenic helicopter flights are constantly buzzing around the reef, it could not be too long before it was spotted.  

A few years back, one was spotted heading towards the outer reef.  It was tracked by all the helicopter pilots and eventually was seen turning around and heading back to land.

Marine Parks would never allow it

If a large crocodile decided to try and make itself a new home near a snorkelling site, it would be removed.  Great Barrier Reef tourism provides a massive part of Australia’s income, in particular, North Queensland.

A crocodile out there would be very bad for business, so it would be removed by parks and wildlife.  Depending on the situation, the animal would most likely be relocated, unharmed.

Do you want to see a crocodile?

If you are still reading then you are obviously quite interested in crocodiles. In order to see them safely, there are a few ways to go about it.

Hartley’s Crocodile Farm

If you are into the whole zoo thing then you can shoot up to Hartley’s which is about 30 mins north of Cairns. It’s a classic zoo situation, by that I mean caged animals which I’m not a big fan of.

Daintree River Cruises

If seeing these majestic beasts in their natural habitat (but from the safety of a boat) is more your jam then we recommend driving up to Cape Tribulation and taking a crocodile river cruise. There are daily river cruises through the Daintree to see the resident 5-meter crocodile called “Big Boy 2”.

It is quite intimidating seeing these prehistoric beasts sunning themselves on the sandy river banks. It makes you doubly sure that there is no way in hell that you would even think about swimming in the ocean up here.

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