They’re there, and it’s the one you don’t see that gets you.
But the truth is
FIRST, your blog correspondent is in a lousy mood, his right shoulder having exploded while exercising his left re-built shoulder during a rehab swim. Hence it is off once more this week to Oz and Dr. Rotor-Rooter From Hell.
SECOND, the only story I’ve heard of crocs and surfers in Indonesia comes second-hand via a friend who lives and works in Jayapura, Papua, the capital near the border with Papua New Guinea. He’s a surfer who has scoured the coast line around Jayapura. This is not the Papua surf zone that has filtered into the surfing media and surfing consciousness, and now is complete with surf tour companies you can find via Google. No, the coast line around Jayapura, my friend says, is lots of jungle and estuaries and crocs, and the surf — well, if you really must know, go there and find out. Just be careful paddling across estuaries to get to the other side. On a surf expedition out of town with a buddy, my friend says his buddy paddled across a back-of-the-beach estuary while he stood watch. A ripple in the water, a croc on the ambush zeroing on the paddler, but the buddy made it just in time. If I recall the story right, the buddy did not paddle back but went on a long arduous trek carrying his board through the jungle to return from whence he started.
Gary Burns of the Mahalo charter boats worked in Eastern Indonesia for twenty years or so, and found a fickle wave near a remote village with crocs in the adjacent river basins. Sometime later I read a local paper wherein the villagers reported a crocodile eating a man. Theoretically, any surfer at that surf spot could conceivably have a close encounter of the toothy reptilian kind.
But one classic story of crocodiles is a true one that I believe I have reported in this blog some years earlier. A ship carrying over a hundred live salt water crocodiles caught in East Indonesia/Papua and to be smuggled to China and turned into handbags chugged up the entrance of the Rote-Kupang Straits
This was a time when the Navy was cracking down on fuel smuggling, not animal smuggling, but the crocs were still contraband. A corvette spotted the boat and roared down to intercept it. The crew frantically dumped all the crocodiles overboard to get rid of the evidence.
(red blob above — this strait is traveled by most surfers heading to Rote, and some frustrated surfers stuck in Kupang due to various reasons have been known to rent a car and explore around that headland just to get out of Poo-pang — in case you must know, the surf there ranges from flat to no good to it sucks, and for a while at least, crocodile infested to boot).
The serendipitously released crocs must have been pretty happy, because this area so happens to be ideal crocodile environment, lots of mangroves and coastal bush close to villages with chickens and goats and other things to eat. For over a year the crocs terrorized the local population, with reports of sightings and close encounters and the loss of valuable animals.
Then just the other week I opened the Jakarta Post and see this photo of a saltie caught off Kupang:
I wouldn’t be surprised if this crocodile was one of the original One Hundred.
Perhaps there are readers of this blog who have their own tale of the crocodile?