Yes, you DID just read that. And yes, it is true. So where in the world can you do this commercially? Darwin of course, the Northern Territory Australia, home of the weird and wonderful.
Whilst on a recent trip to Darwin, we heard about a local company that offered cage diving with these top predators. We just had to find out more and see if we could do it. This would be a one and only opportunity to do something like that in the world, surely?
Diving with crocodiles
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptile in the world. They can grow to 6.7m and weigh up to 2000kg.
They are a formidable apex ‘ambush’ predator and a supreme hypercarnivorous beast, eating anything from fish, reptiles, crustaceans, birds and mammals, including humans.
There are an estimated 100,000-200,000 ‘salties’ in Australia, mainly in the waterways of the NT, QLD and WA.
So, in great anticipation and with a little trepidation, we went off to Crocosaurus Cove. There in the heart of downtown Darwin was an experience to bring the wildlife of the Top End to your doorstep.
Amongst offered attractions such as the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles, a ‘fishing for crocs’ platform, a ‘swim with the crocs’ pool and a 200,000 litre freshwater aquarium with daily ”barra feeding, was the penultimate thrill…
Cage of Death
Yes, the Cage of Death crocodile dive. It has a great ring to it, hasn’t it? You just about want to sell your kids and mortgage the house to do this one – or maybe not!
Well we were ready to jump at the chance. Even at a cost of $165 per person, for 30 minutes of the biggest underwater thrill you could ever think of. But despite running it 12 times a day, we were unlucky. They were booked up well in advance with no free spots before we had to return home.
So what could we do instead? Gate crash someone else’s thrill of a life time experience of course! Enter Jan (Jnr) and father Jan (Snr) Machotka from Adelaide who had both decided to test their metal at the Croc Cove’s Cage of Death.
They allowed us to film the event, maybe just in case anything were to happen we would have the record for the insurance company. Only joking guys, don’t panic!
The experience is well controlled. The ‘cage’ is a very thick acrylic cylinder which is then suspended from a crane attached to a monorail. It accommodates 1-2 people only, and gives you a fantastic 360 degree view.
There are many tanks with long term inhabitants in them including Chopper, William and Kate(!). They rotate the experience from tank to tank so all the crocs have a go, so’s to speak.
Some of the crocodiles are quite old and one or two have lost limbs from old fights in the wild, so they are at the Cove now to live out their lives in comfort without other crocs attacking them.
Once you are in the tank, they suspend you over a tank and then slowly lower you into the chosen tank. The crocodile is then tempted to come up to the tank with a bit of meat hanging of a rod.
You get a real close view of these amazing creatures, with not a lot of substance between you and them. Goggles and mask enable you to dip under the water level to get an even closer look.
I was quite surprised. The crocs seem to enjoy the experience, or maybe it was the extra titbits they got fed for being on their good behaviour, but there was no thrashing or attacking of the cage that you may have imagined.
It seemed to be a lot of fun, and it does educate people in croc behaviour. Whilst the purists may not like the idea of captive crocs for human amusement, there is always the other side of the coin.
These animals are showcasing their species to the world. Most were injured and thus being captive prevents them from being predated upon naturally in the wild. They are well fed and looked after.
From an educational view point, only when you have seen something up close and had a personal experience with it will you ever have the headset in the future to preserve and cherish it for our future generations.
For more information see Crocosaurus Cove (58 Mitchell St, Darwin, NT)
Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expense.