Sunday, July 6, 2008

Terror has a red eye

Since my last post, we surveyed a beach for crocodile nests, and found several, performed night shoreline surveys for croc eyes, caught a couple of crocs and had a lot of nice meals anchored in the boat waiting for dark. In case you haven't caught a crocodile from a boat before, I'll outline how it works.

Croc Capture Instruction (boat method):
1. Someone sits on the bow shining his spotlight on the mangroves looking for croc eye-shine. In this case, that someone was Thomas Rainwater. The eye-shine should be red. Thomas likes to say "Terror has a red eye." which helps distinguish between croc eyes and those of many other animals (e.g., wolf spiders). Thomas can't actually see the red, due to his color-blindness, but trust me, it works. When discussing your crocodile captures, you may want to employ Thomas' "Rambo Scale." Catching crocs rates higher on the Rambo scale than, say, analyzing satellite images of coral reefs or crocheting. Although we caught some nice crocs over the last few days, they didn't put up enough fight to be high on the Rambo scale. They fell somewhere in the mid-to-low range. We actually wonder if some of the crocs that we caught, which were recaptures from previous croc surveys, maybe enjoy being sexed (determining if they're male or female -- in case you were confused) a bit too much and thus didn't put up a fight. There is a bit of cloaca manipulation that has to take place to sex a croc. I digress.
2. Once you spot a croc, keep the light on its eye to "blind" it so that it can't see your approach.

3. Sneak up to it on the boat and and slip a snare over its head. After the croc is snared, it will likely start spinning. Don't worry this is normal. It may also start hissing. Again this is normal. (We got great photo opportunities when one pissed-off croc was hissing at us, but the Leslee's lens cap was in the way.) Eventually the croc will tire.
4. At this point, it can be brought over to the side of the boat.
5. Next, place a separate noose around the croc's mouth, so that it doesn't bite you. OK?
6. You can pull the croc into the boat.
7. Secure its head, hind legs and tail. Sit on it, if necessary.
8. Duct tape its mouth closed.
9. Cover its eyes. This may calm it down some.
10. Now look at how beautiful a croc is up close.

Now what are you going to do?
Collect data. Sometime during this process, collect information about the location of the croc, or eye-shine if you don't get a capture. Here's Kat and Thomas collecting location information. Take measurements of the crocodile (length, snout width, etc.) and mark it, so that if you catch it again, you can see how it has changed or if it has moved. Take a break and look at the funky crocodile features. Check this out. This croc's lower teeth go THROUGH its upper jaw! That's most of it.

Just remember, "Terror has a red eye." I think that both Thomas Rainwater and the crocs would agree with this.

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