Snorkeler Was 'Simply in Wrong Place, at Wrong Time'

Marcus McGowan managed to pry crocodile's jaws off his head in waters off north coast of Australia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2023 11:00 AM CDT
Croc Grabbed Snorkeler, Realized He 'Was Too Big to Handle'
Stock photo of a saltwater crocodile.   (Getty Images/hindenburgdalhoff)

A snorkeling adventure at a swanky Queensland resort led to a most terrifying crocodile encounter for one Australian man. The BBC and Guardian report that 51-year-old Marcus McGowan was in the water with his wife and friends on Saturday near the Sir Charles Hardy Islands, about 17 miles from the exclusive Haggerstone Island, when he was suddenly attacked from behind. Something "got its jaws around my head," he said in a statement, per CNN. At first McGowan thought it was a shark, "but when I reached up, I realized it was a crocodile."

McGowan noted he was able to pry the creature's jaws open "just far enough to get my head out," and that when the croc tried to circle back for another attack, he pushed back with his right hand, which also got bitten. "Crocodiles are the hardest-biting animal on the planet," a manager at Australia Reptile Park tells the Guardian. "But when people do fight back, they seem to let go. He probably scared the croc, which realized it grabbed something too big to handle." McGowan, who estimates the crocodile was a juvenile between 6.5 feet and 10 feet long, was taken by boat to Haggerstone Island, then by helicopter to Thursday Island. From there, he was transported to a hospital in Cairns, where he was treated for puncture wounds on his hand and head, as well as for scalp lacerations.

"I was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time," he said in his statement, per CNN. "I'm just grateful it was me and not one of the kids or ladies in the group." The outlet notes that saltwater crocodiles, or "salties," are commonly found in the nation's tropical north, and the area around Haggerstone Island is often referred to as "Croc Country," per the Guardian. At least four other crocodile attacks have been logged in the region this year, including one fatality. Queensland's environmental agency is investigating the attack on McGowan. (More crocodile stories.)

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