Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jumping Crocodiles and More!

The wetlands of the Adelaide River.
The World ARC offered a trip to see the Jumping Crocodiles on the Adelaide River. Dennis stayed behind as a tradesman was coming on board to look at something. This had been a tour that we passed on when we were here before. It was so hot in Darwin that I figured a ride in an air conditioned bus was a good idea.

The wetlands extend for miles. When flooded, the crocs
and other animals take up residency.
First we stopped at a Window on the Wetlands Nature Reserve to see the exhibits and learn about the importance of the wetlands. In this area, the tides can be up to 8 meters high which floods inland for miles. Then in the rainy season, the wetlands also flood. Wetlands are essential in the scheme of nature and they are diminishing on earth as man fills them in to build! We all need to be aware of their importance to the whole ecosystem and protect them.

Stuart and Pat on Brizo
The wetlands in this area are inhabited by crocodiles, wild buffalo and many species of birds and fish. The crocodiles are actually protected here. I figured they were a nuisance and could be hunter like we hunt the Michigan White Tailed Deer. Apparently, the rivers and surrounding wetlands depend on the coexistence with the crocs. The Park Ranger gave a very detail description of how it all works.

See the black earth in a distance. The natives knew to burn
the lower under bush and sometimes lightening starts the burn.

Then we were off to see the jumping crocodiles! The group boarded a double decker tourist boat for a trip up and down the Adelaide River, home to over 1600 crocodiles. The tour guide said the better views were inside the lower level, but everyone raced to get up to the open top deck. I headed down and got a window seat. Not only was it air conditioned, but I also got a close up view of the crocodiles right outside my window.

More than 30 years ago, the Australian Saltwater Crocodile was protected as they were believed to be facing extinction. Today there are more than 80,000 Saltwater Crocodiles roaming the waterways for Northern Australia. However, it is relatively rare to see one even though you hear of the rare incident of one killing a human.

Since they are cold blooded animals, they bask in the sun during the cooler months of June, July and early August. Most of the time they are buried in the mud, under the trees in the shade. They like to hang out in the mangroves along the beaches so it is unwise to go ashore or swimming there.

Wild buffalo along the road.
There on the Adelaide River, the crocs know the tour boats and that they will be fed so they come out of their hiding spots to the boat to vie for a piece of meat. The tour guide fed meat hanging on a line from a pole to the crocodiles. The guide splashed the meat in the water to entice these prehistoric creatures to leap out of the water. It is carefully monitored so the crocs don't become dependent on the meat as their main source of food.

This big guy is swimming around waiting to pounce.
I am glad I went on the tour as I learned a lot and it was relatively entertaining. Plus I was in air conditioning all day! Actually, we have been running the two air conditioners on the boat most of the day and night. We only switch it off when we have to move to charging the batteries.

It is extremely hot here in Darwin. We are near a latitude of 12 degrees south of the equator so we are in the tropics! It is going to get worse as we head to Indonesia and get closer to it. I don't love the heat so I am not looking forward to being away from shore power and air conditioning for the next few months! With a new crew guy on board, I will have to dress appropriately, instead of comfortably!

Note: this female has no forearms.

The water is deep here, but they lift themselves up out of
the water. Quite amazing in strength.

Winding our way down the Adelaide River

Soon we will be heading out through the lock of the marina, crossing the reefs at high tide and heading to the Start Line for the leg to Indonesia. It should take 5-6 days to get to Lombok, but there is no wind predicted so it may take longer. We can't use up a lot of fuel this early in the trip as we have thousands of miles to go and not many places to refuel. This may become the slow boat to China.

We are at the blue dot in the lower right corner.
This year I got to celebrate my birthday in Australia. Last year it was in Vanuatu and in Fiji the year before. What a lucky lady I am! Dennis and I had a date night with dinner in the city away from the sailing gang.

Sheila surprised me by decorating the boat for my birthday.

Note: I have scheduled these posts to come out while we are at sea and without Internet. I may not be posting live again for a couple of months.

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