Port Douglas surf lifesavers to launch aerial monitoring of crocs

FOUR MILE BEACH

Mark Murray

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Port Douglas surf lifesaver Conor O'Sullivan keeps an eye on a crocodile off Four Mile Beach in August last year. IMAGE: Credit - Kelly Vella.
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THE Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club is preparing to launch a crocodile monitoring program from above.

Local surf life savers are being trained to use drones in order to keep beachgoers aware of any croc activity on Four Mile Beach.

There has not been a single beach closure due to a crocodile in Port Douglas this year, with the beach last closed in November 2017, the third time that year. The patrolled swimming area has been shut down nine times from croc sightings since 2016.


Sightings traditionally occur once water temperatures begin to warm from August onwards.

“I haven’t seen a single croc this year on Four Mile Beach but that’s not to say there aren’t any around outside the main swimming area,” Port Douglas surf life saver Conor O’Sullivan said.

“It has been a bit quieter.”

The drone program, which will be rolled out from Port Douglas to Mission Beach, hopes to collect information about crocodile movements and patterns of behaviour when observed near beaches.

The data will then be passed on to wildlife officers at the Department of Environment and Science to give them more accurate accounts about the size, location and direction of travel of crocodiles along the coast.

It comes after initial results from the Queensland Government’s crocodile population survey suggest numbers in the state were comparably low.


The Department began a three-year study last year following fatal attacks in the Daintree and Port Douglas, and continuous pressure from the public.

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Northern Wildlife Operations Manager, Dr Matthew Brian, said early findings indicated numbers hadn’t exploded in the Far North. The data is expected to be made public at the completion of the survey.

Meanwhile, there is currently a recent crocodile warning sign erected at the southern end of Four Mile Beach after a small one-metre crocodile was reported.

 

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