Sunday, August 08, 2010

Australia's "monster" crocodile

This photograph has been doing the rounds lately. It purportedly shows a giant 6.5 metre (22 foot) saltwater crocodile that was shot in... well, there's the rub. There seems to be some disagreement about whether it was shot in Queensland, or the Northern Territory, and therefore who owns Australia's largest (dead) crocodile. This disagreement has spilled over into the international media, all of whom love a good story about giant crocodiles.

There's only one problem with all this. That crocodile is certainly not 6.5 metres long. Not even close. If you ask me, it's probably a little over 5 metres long. How do I know this? Well, all the clues are in the photo. First of all, that truck (a Toyota Landcruiser FJ40 series station wagon) is roughly the same length as the crocodile, give or take. It's hard to tell because the back of the crocodile's tail isn't in the shot. So how long is that truck? It's around 4.7 metres. Secondly, the photograph uses all the classic perspective tricks to fool the eye into emphasising the size of the crocodile - low to the ground, wide-angle lens, small child in the foreground, truck in the background (the distance could be several metres, further exaggerating the size of the crocodile). And if that wasn't enough, the crocodile is clearly starting to bloat from decomposition, making it look even larger. So if you add all this up, look at the size of the truck and where the crocodile is positioned in relation to it, considering how much of its tail is missing, it can't be much more than 5 metres long. That's around 17 feet at best. That's certainly a very impressive, very large crocodile, but it's nowhere near the size they're claiming, and it's certainly not the largest croc ever found in Australia.

Whoever wants this crocodile can have it. Not only is it not particularly noteworthy, it's probably a bit on the nose by now judging from the age of the photograph.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Croc Attack

This is what Erin and I had to go through as part of our latest television show which airs this weekend on Discovery Channel. The blue Avatar suits are to protect us from deadly box jellyfish while carrying a saltwater crocodile, which sounds more dangerous on paper than it actually was.

The show is called "Croc Attack" which, amazingly enough, has never actually been used as the title for a TV show about crocodiles before. For some reason which I can't quite put my finger on, it's airing as part of Shark Week. Hey, if you don't tell anyone, I won't either, ok?

It's on at 9pm ET/PT Saturday 7th August, 12am ET/PT Sunday 8th August and 6pm ET/PT Sunday 8th August.

If enough people watch the show, and I hope you all do, we'll get to do more! It's our quest to get a bit more science and interesting stories in crocodile documentaries, which you know is the right way to go. If you're on the fence about it, bear in mind it features Smaug at 1,000 frames per second. He looks great at that frame rate.