A 26-year-old Australian man was grabbed by a 16-foot crocodile while swimming in a known habitat for the dangerous reptiles, police said on Sunday. The man, whose name has not yet been released, was celebrating his friend's 30th birthday yesterday at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat, according to ABC News on Aug. 25. That is a popular Outback tourist destination 70 miles southeast of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin, which was also the victim's hometown, said Senior Sergeant Geoff Bahnert.
The unidentified victim and another man had gone swimming across the river. It was as the pair were swimming back when the crocodile attacked, Sgt. Bahnert said.
"Several of the group in the party witnessed the male being taken in the jaws of the croc for a period of time, and then he was out of sight", he added.
The search for the man is being called a recovery operation today, as the authorities drag the river bottom in hopes of finding his body.
The Mary River is said to be famous for being home to the world's largest saturation of adult saltwater crocodiles. "You don't swim in the Mary River", the officer admitted.
Alcohol might have played a role in the victim's decision to swim in the crocodile-infested waters.
As police officials and a government Crocodile Management Team arrived at the resort late Saturday, an officer reportedly shot one of the largest crocodiles seen, as a safety measure for the searchers.
It's not yet known if that was the killer crocodile. "The advice to tourists is to come, look, take photographs and stay out of the water", Bahnert added, according to Australia's Sky News on Sunday.
Witnesses were understandably described as being traumatized.
The crocodile population has "exploded" across Australia's tropical northern territories since becoming protected by federal law in 1971.
Because of that dense croc habitation, the Northern Territory is promoted as a major tourist attraction.
The sergeant said there's so many crocodiles in the territory that they even advise people check the water before entering a swimming pool.
"Any body of water you're going into in the NT, there's the potential for a croc to be in there", said Bahnert.