Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reader Comment: Crocs and Alligators


Byter Steve writes:

Hello Otto,

I think I will finally have my Guru stumped with this one! 

I watching the news today about a crocodile that attacked a boat near Darwin. Apparently it grabbed hold of the outboard motor and tried to “roll” the boat. The location was “Alligator Creek” and it has prompted me to ask why it would be called “Alligator” creek.  We have “crocs” here but I didn’t think we had “gators”. If that is correct, how on earth did Alligator Creek get it’s name?

Too easy:

The attack took place in the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park.  The fishermen were asleep in their boat when a 4 metre crocodile attacked their boat, taking a chunk out of the outboard motor.  The story is at:

The Alligator Rivers is the name of the region in Arnhem Land region of the Northern Territory.  There are three Alligator Rivers:  East, West and South.  The area is regarded as one of the richest biological regions in Australia. 

You are right, Steve, that there are no alligators in the wild in Oz, so how did the area get its name?

Between 1818 and 1822 the area was surveyed and mapped by Phillip Parker King under instructions from the Colonial Office which wanted to find out if there was a river that enabled entry inland into the continent.

On seeing the large numbers of crocodiles in the river area, he misttok them for alligators and so gave an erroneous name that has endured to the present.  According to King’s own words from his journal:

"On our course up and down the river, we encountered several very large alligators and some were noticed sleeping on the mud. This was the first time we had seen these animals, excepting that at Goulburn Island, and, as they appeared to be very numerous and large, it was not thought safe to stop all night up the River."

So there you have it, Steve.

And to prove that you don't need to know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile to advance in politics anbd in the military, King later became a member of the New South Wales Parliament and an admiral.

 The story which accompanies the above pic, from The Nation newspaper at:

This monster crocodile soared out of the water in northern Australia to grab a chunk of meat offered on a stick by a ranger. Tourists on the boat, cruising along the Adelaide River near Darwin, reared back as the giant 80-year-old crocodile suddenly leaped up to grab the titbit.  Feeding the crocs is a daily tourist attraction but usually they’re much smaller than this 18ft fellow, nicknamed Brutus by rangers who have been aware of his presence over the years.   Several people have been killed by the reptiles over the years.  Three people were taken by crocodiles in northern Australia in 2009 alone, including an 11-year-old girl who was playing with friends in the Black Jungle Swamp near Darwin. 

 I can’t let the topic go without one last item . . .

A guy walks into a bar with a pet alligator by his side. He puts the alligator up on the bar. He turns to the astonished patrons.

"I'll make you a deal. I'll open this alligator's mouth and place my genitals inside. The gator will close his mouth for one minute. He'll then open his mouth and I'll remove my unit unscathed. In return for witnessing this spectacle, each of you will buy me a drink."

The crowd murmured their approval. The man stood up on the bar, dropped his trousers, placed his privates in the alligator's open mouth. The gator closed his mouth as the crowd gasped. After a minute, the man grabbed a beer bottle and rapped the alligator hard on the top of its head. The gator opened his mouth and the man removed his genitals - unscathed as promised.

The crowd cheered and the first of his free drinks was delivered. The man stood up again and made another offer. "I'll pay anyone $100 who's willing to give it a try."

A hush fell over the crowd. After a while, a hand went up in the back of the bar. A woman timidly spoke up. "I'll try, but you have to promise not to hit me on the head with the beer bottle."


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