The 4.5-metre-long saltwater crocodile that was killed after a fatal attack on a man in Australia’s Northern Territory has been described as a “one-in-a-100-million rarity”
On Monday night, a local fisherman ventured into the Northern Territory’s Adelaide River to untangle his line and was taken by a large male crocodile. The crocodile happened to be an incredibly rare half-albino with a hypo-melanistic head, which means its scales contained less melanin – or pigment – causing them to take on a pale blonde or yellow colouring.
The crocodile was shot and killed hours after the attack.
According to crocodile researcher Adam Britton from Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory, albino crocodile hatchlings aren’t particularly uncommon, but for one to make it to adulthood like this one did, it had to be a formidable specimen. Crocodiles with pale albino colourisation – even just on their heads – don’t benefit from the camouflage provided by the regular, dull green-grey scales, so have to work extra hard to survive.
“This particular croc had lots of scars, missing limbs, a huge bite out of his flank. He’d been through the wars,” Britton told James Dunlevie at ABC News.
Pat Chappell, a tour guide on the Adelaide River, told Dunlevie that the stretch of water was known by the locals as a place with a high concentration of large, saltwater crocodiles.
“He was the dominant, territorial male in that part of the river. That’s his territory and he patrols it regularly. There is one in hundred million chance of getting another crocodile like him,” he told the ABC. “They do not have much thought process. They’re not thinkers. They’re more reactors … The fella leaning out to get his line untangled would have been right out over the surface of the water on the bank – this is where crocodiles secure their prey, that’s what they’re all about.”