Thursday, February 16, 2012

Swimming with Crocodiles


If you're in the UK, tune in to BBC2 this Sunday 19 February at 9pm (after Top Gear) for Swimming with Crocodiles. Yes, that title is accurate. I travel to Botswana with UK adventurer Ben Fogle and we end up diving with some very large, wild Nile crocodiles in the Okavango. The first one I encounter ends up giving all of us quite a scare, because it comes to investigate us rather than the other way around. But the purpose behind doing this is not only to investigate the diving technique pioneered by Brad Bestelink and Andy Crawford, but also to learn a lot more about the behaviour and sensory abilities of crocodiles underwater. There's no better way of appreciating that than by entering their realm. It's one of the most remarkable projects I've ever been involved in.

For the second episode, which airs on 26 February, we investigate whether the same can be done with saltwater crocodiles here in Australia.

8 comments:

Linda said...

Loved the show last night.
I wondered if the crocodile thought the polystyrene ball was an egg as it was handled so carefully, and was going to return it to land. Then once at the surface realised that it felt wrong and discarded it.

Adam Britton said...

Glad you enjoyed it Linda. That's an interesting thought, but I can't think of a recorded observation where a crocodile has ever done that with an egg that was in the water. In fact they normally ignore them completely, eat them, or tread on them, almost as though the egg has to be associated with a nest, or at the very least has to smell like an egg.

When crocs grab prey underwater it's usually a violent move, but they will grab objects of interest (including dead prey) more gently and then return to the surface to deal with them. Given that they don't have hands, crocs tend to bite things to investigate them. We'll never know what the croc really thought that ball was, other than something it was interested in and wanted to investigate further. It certainly bit it very hard when it reached the surface with it, judging by the impressions it made. The ball was actually a crab pot float, made of very dense polystyrene because I didn't want to risk it disintegrating. I couldn't make a dent it in myself, but the croc really tried hard and left its mark. That ball is sitting in my office at a memento.

andy hill said...

Just like to say that I thought the program was great. Brilliant programming.

Andy

Crash said...

That sounds awesome, very Steve Irwin[ish], but when will we get to see it here in oz?

Any idea would be much appreciated.

- As an aside, and it's just a thought, is it really necessary to have captcha enabled as the comments are already being moderated?

Adam Britton said...

Hi Crash, I actually don't know if / when it will be broadcast in Australia. Distribution is being handled by BBC Worldwide, there seems a reasonable chance it will appear at some point, but that's really all they've told me.

As for the Captcha and moderation, I put it on to try and cut down on the large amount of spam that I have to wade through. Not having it on makes it much easier to miss the genuine comments, and I like to maintain a more personal feel to the comments section by trying to answer everyone where possible.

allan said...

Any word on when NatGeo will air the show on Lolong? Looking forward to seeing the footage! I don't see any mention of it on their site.

Adam Britton said...

Allan, they're actually still working on it. There's a lot of work involved and they want to get it right, but I'm in regular communication with them and it sounds like it's nearly there. Not sure when Guinness will make the announcement, but it's coming. I'm sure they'd like the two to happen around the same time.

allan said...

I'm sure they'll make it cool. Someone should do a show talking about a handful of the legendary crocs such as Bujang Senang, Gustave, etc. etc. and show the various skulls, do some dramatic period re-enactments and speculate about what really happened in these cases, like the Jala Jala crocodile killed by Paul De La Gironière. Although clearly macabre, some of these are great stories... and skulls...