Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

November 2nd 2008
Wighty Houdini croc dead

Wighty Houdini RIP In astonishing news just to hand from the Envirnomental Protection Authority (EPA), we have learnt that the crocodile, which drew nation-wide attention to Magnetic Island after a three week stay in our waters and a massive effort to humanely recapture him, has died.

According to an EPA release, "The crocodile caught at Magnetic Island on Friday died yesterday as a result of the ingestion of a large number of plastic bags.

"A necropsy (autopsy on an animal) carried out this morning found 25 plastic shopping and garbage bags, a plastic wine cooler bag and a rubber float in its stomach.

"Because the material had compacted solidly in its stomach it was unable to digest food.

"EPA biologists believe that no animal would have survived with that amount of material compacted in its stomach.

"There was evidence that the plastic bags had accumulated over time."

The croc had become known to locals as Wighty Houdini but an EPA spokesperson told Magnetic Times that his stomach was "absolutely full" of plastic bags.

According to journalist Sharon Jacobsen, Every year, around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide - about one million bags per minute.

It is estimated that every man, woman and child on Earth uses 83 plastic bags every year.

Plastic bags are difficult to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they can take 300 years to break down.

Recently there have been press reports of a "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean which is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States.

The enormous swirling mass is contained by oceancurrents and starts about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, stretching across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and nearly to Japan.

The EPA had been in contact with one expert, Dr Col Limpus, a world authority on sea turtles which commonly die from plastic bag ingestion who had claimed that he had never heard of this form of death happeneing to a crocodile.

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Wighty Houdini croc dead
 
13 comments
 
chasmac
November 3rd 2008
Before all the tabloid journalists and their frothing-mouthed audience take themselves off to post traumatic stress counselling, and before all the dim-witted politicians grovel before their gods for forgiveness for not knowing what their bureaucrats and public servants were doing, and before that small unguarded bunch of unpretentious scientists and researchers publicly flail themselves in humiliation and unwarranted disgrace - give yourselves a break. It's OK. The sky will not fall in.
The poor bloody croc has taught us something about ourselves. We are a bunch of self-centred, self-congratulating, ignorant adults. We are loud-mouthed, know-nothing, blame-shifting fools and we live in a cess pit of our own waste in complete denial of our dismal impact on our own pathetic back yard.
What a shock that a primitive reptile and a handful of naive park rangers have laid it all out in front of us. Oh, and the plastic bags didn't come from somewhere out in the north Pacific did they? They came from our beaches, our mangrove creeks and our rainforest shores. Or more accurately, our supermarkets, our landfill dumps and our streets and drains. We have to own up to it. Our coast, our reef, our gorgeous tourist destination is being ruined by us. All of us. And half of us would like to shoot the messenger.
 
Barbara
November 3rd 2008
And here was everyone paranoid he would take a bite of white meat!!! We have (as a cancerous species) killed an innocent animal who didn't hurt anyone. All the more reason for shops on the island to adhere to southern rules of no plastic bags unless asked for by the shopper! Sad story...
 
Jonboy
November 3rd 2008
George, you have done a first class job of keeping us all informed both editorally and with those great pics but what a shameful end to that crocs life. Anyone that continues to use plastic bags after this event must surely be crazy.
What a bloody all round tradgedy.
 
Fed up with picking up others' rubbish, Nelly Bay
November 3rd 2008
If ever there is a lesson from this whole sorry affair - let it be from the autopsy. Make Maggie at least, plastic bag free, and may we all (residents and visitors alike) think twice before we discard rubbish ANYWHERE except a proper lidded garbage bin.
 
David J
November 3rd 2008
What an absolute disgaceful set of circumstances. In my last submission, which I ask the reader to refer, brought attention to the need in research project submissions to have adequate information should the 'subject' become sick or injured. If this instance, the crocodile was 'crammed' with plastic bags, and therefore not a fit animal from the outset, any data obtained from the entire project is next to useless. The crocodile would not be expected to behave 'normally' as it would in all probability trying to recover or adapt to a slow death. The data would be skewed and unreliable. On the other hand the data from the other poorly envisaged natural experiment involving people, their feelings and and business success is in train, and will be complete when the last few responses regarding the EPA's public relation disaster are collated. What a mess, and this all from the very department established with the aim of helping the community and the environment! I think a few superiors need to show leadership and perhaps relinquish their role in favour of real scientists. David J
 
Barbara
November 4th 2008
yes! There were 2 positives from the painful death of Whitey Houdini...that without having accidentally been taken and put into the research, we would never have been so aware of just how widespread our waste affects ALL species; At least the poor fella had a nice place to spend his last few hours...everything happens for a reason! May his soul live on.
 
basil
November 4th 2008
What an appalling lot we homo-sapiens are,the best of our species is tolerable (minority)the grief we cause to ourselves and, more importantly to our planets environment will tragically,for us unless we come to our collective senses lead to our own extinction. It is deeply saddening to me how that poor unfortunate croc was hounded houdini when it turned out that he was suffering so much.
 
Allyson
November 4th 2008
chasmac - I couldn't agree with you more
 
chasmac
November 4th 2008
David J, read the Crocs in Space web site. There is no "disaster", no "absolute disgraceful set of circumstances", no "mess" - except that which you want to see to justify your outrage. Why are you so outraged?
 
David J
November 5th 2008
Dear Chasmac, since you have asked the question, I am outraged because we have supposedly educated people placed in positions of trust in our government departments to put in place systems and adhere to processes to stop this very type of situation occurring. I am outraged those affected by the project (including island inhabitants) were informed in a very poor, ad hoc and piecemeal process, I am outraged that in these financially difficult times, the already precarious business livelihood of people has been put at further unnecessary risk, real or otherwise. I am outraged that people lives were put at an even more unnecessary risk through the need to once again recapture the crocodile despite their heroic efforts. I am outraged that the animals condition was not better determined prior and what could have been a very good opportunity and piece of science has been lost. But more importantly I am outraged that some people just don
 
Jo
November 7th 2008
Well, the croc story has been one balls up after another in my humble opinion. And an absolute crime that the poor beast died at the end of it all...however, i may be a sucker for a consipiracy theory, but i'm not convinced by the plastic bag story...Of course, plastic bags are the devil's spawn and should be banned worldwide (WHEN will my lazy Annandale neighbours get the bloody message!)..but, as Col said - there is no report anywhere of this happening previously to a croc. Plastic bags generally affect marine animals that eat jellyfish (or sea jellies - if we're being politically correct) because they resemble them - crocs don't, as far as i'm aware, eat jellyfish? I suspect the actual explanation is far simpler...either the poor beast was stressed to death, got too hot (or both), or they got rid of him to spare any further debacle...
Jo
 
chasmac
November 10th 2008
Oh, very helpful Jo. I'd love to be there when you give the bloody message to your "lazy Annandale neighbours" about "the devil's spawn". There'll be no report of this happening previously. No doubt you'll quote an EPA expert on political correctness to assert that, as far as you're aware, no plastic bag will be stressed to death by 1990 although resembling crocodiles and being a sucker will be the poor beast at the end of it all and banned worldwide. In my humble opinion.
 
Anne
November 10th 2008
Well this is the perfect time for everyone to cut back on plastic bag use. Take reusable bags to the shops, carry items from shop to car or bike if you forget or spend a dollar to get another, line your rubbish bin with newspaper like my grandmother did instead of using plastic bags to do so, don't take plastic bags to the beach and if you see plastic on the beach pick it up and put it in the bin or take it home. Shop owners put signs up discouraging use of plastic or charge 10c per plastic bag. Remember a plastic bag is a plastic bad!


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