Michael Jackson, a 4.5-metre-long part-albino crocodile and tourist attraction in Australia’s Northern Territory, is dead after it ate a fisherman while his wife looked on in horror, according to media reports.
The 57-year-old fisherman, 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, Northern Territory Police Duty Superintendent Jo Foley said. The woman did not see her husband taken, but heard “a scream and then turned around and saw a tail splashing in the water,” Foley said.
Police Senior Constable Travis Edwards said searchers in boats found the victim’s body on Monday night and shot the crocodile.
Michael Jackson is a rare part-albino crocodile, with white colouring on its head only.
“They acted appropriately to shoot him but it’s a real shame they had to do it,” crocodile researcher Adam Britton of Charles Darwin University told the Sydney Morning Herald. “He is a well-known, well-loved crocodile.”
The Adelaide River crocodiles are a major tourist attraction. The man was attacked near the Arnhem Highway bridge, close to where cruise ships show sightseers crocodiles leap from the water to snatch chicken carcasses suspended from poles.
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.
The man’s death is the first in Australia since June, when a 4.7-metre crocodile snatched a 62-year-old fisherman from his dinghy on the South Alligator River in the Northern Territory.
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.