It’s the middle of the night in the Northern Territory and our Monster Fish film crew is setting out on the East Alligator River to catch crocodiles, something unusual for Monster Fish shows which focus on giant freshwater fish. Crocodiles are an iconic tourist attraction in the Northern Territory , so we can’t avoid including them in the show. If catching crocodiles doesn’t sound dangerous enough, we’ve been told we’ll be catching them at night! During the day crocodiles can easily spot us in the bright light and get away, but at night we can temporarily blind them with a spotlight.
We set out on two boats with Kakadu National Park rangers. I’m on a crew boat, so I’m not in the shot when Rob, our cameraman, films Zeb catching saltwater crocodiles, the biggest reptile on earth a fearsome predator and capable of doing some serious damage The boats motor through the darkness. I have no idea, which way we are heading. We have to turn off all lights, leaving only the spotlight on, and keep our voices very low so we don’t scare the crocs away. We come across quite a few salties, a nickname given to saltwater crocodiles , but they manage slip away into the darkness. I’m exhausted and discouraged when I see first light in the sky. Just when I think that we might not accomplish our mission, Gary the chief ranger harpoons a croc. Zeb and Adam, the local croc expert, try to pull the croc in. My heart is pounding. The croc is biting, rolling, fighting and banging against the side of the boat. If it’s strong enough, it could capsize it. I’m also nervous that if we lose this croc we won’t be able to catch another one because it’s getting light so quickly. But with three men against one croc, surely the croc has to give in.
Finally, we bring the croc to a boat ramp to record its data. Everything goes well until we film the release of the croc. Remembering the moment makes my heart beat faster again. Rob and myself are literally in front of the croc, having our backs against a wall. I’m holding a boom microphone, waiting for Gary to give us a signal to get out of the croc’s way. He instructs Zeb, Adam and another ranger to let go of the croc, but he seems to have forgotten about the film crew. Once I see the croc’s mouth open wide and it starts running towards us, I no longer need to wait for Gary’s instruction. I throw the microphone and jump up a wall two feet higher than I am tall. This was one of my most memorable encounters with a wild animal.
Be sure to tune in to Monster Fish: Predators of the Outback tonight at 10P et/pt. Here’s a peek at tonight’s episode: