Man killed by 4.5m crocodile in front of wife

A fisherman has been killed by a crocodile. File photo / Thinkstock
A fisherman has been killed by a crocodile. File photo / Thinkstock

Police say a 57-year-old fisherman has been killed by a 4.5 metre crocodile in front of his wife while the couple fished in a northern Australian river notorious for the deadly predators.

Northern Territory Police Duty Superintendent Jo Foley says the man, whose name has not been released, entered the Adelaide River on Monday afternoon to unsnag his line when he was taken by the saltwater crocodile.

Foley says the woman did not see her husband taken, but heard "a scream and then turned around and saw a tail splashing in the water."

The Adelaide River crocodiles are a major tourist attraction.

Police Senior Constable Travis Edwards says searchers in boats found the victim's body on Monday night and shot the crocodile.

Police Superintendent Bob Harrison told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the killer crocodile had regularly leapt for chickens dangled from the cruise ships and was well known to operators of the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise.

Tour operators said the albino-headed crocodile was named Michael Jackson, and was "one in a million".

"Michael Jackson was one in a million, and unfortunately being an albino would have been picked on by all the others, its a big pecking order," said Rob Marchand, owner of Wallaroo Tours, which runs Jumping Croc cruises across the river from where the man was taken.

He told the ABC on Tuesday that the crocodile had been in that part of the river for several years, and that the crocodiles had been fighting a lot recently, jockeying for position and preparing to breed.

He said only the strongest and most aggressive crocodiles reached four metres or longer.

"The croc has only been doing what nature intends it to do, and that's survive," Mr Marchand said.

"They know how to do three major things: eat, reproduce and aggression ... if you're not going to look after yourself, you'll find yourself being eaten."

Crocodiles shouldn't be blamed for their natural behaviour, he said, and rejected the suggestion that the Jumping Croc tours were encouraging predatory behaviour on the Adelaide River.

"I'm sure crocs knew how to eat people a long time before we come along," he said.

The attack is the third this year, after a boy was taken at a billabong at Jabiru in January, and another fisherman was snatched off his boat as he emptied a bucket in a Kakadu River two months ago.

A crocodile was also shot on the Tiwi Islands two weeks ago, suspected to have killed a local man who disappeared and has yet to be found.

But tests on the organic matter found in its stomach haven't yet produced a conclusive result.

Crocodile numbers have swelled across Australia's tropical north since the species was protected by federal law in 1971. The crocodile population is densest in the Northern Territory.

Read more: Deadliest animals in the world

- AP, AAP

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