Homesick Crocodiles

I find it amazing that, more than a year after his passing, Steve Irwin is still making contributions to the field of wildlife biology. 

PLOS One published a paper by Irwin and several colleagues that tracked the movement of Australia’s estuarine crocodiles.  Its an innovative use of tags and spatial analysis of crocodile territories and their tendency to ‘home’, or return to certain ranges. 

The major implication revealed by this paper?  Removing and relocating crocodiles – at least in this species – may be a fruitless method of controlling potentially dangerous animals near human cities and towns.  The three large males studied each returned to their particular site, and showed an immense capacity for long distance travel and impressive navigational skills. 

Of course, this yields more questions.  How did they orient themselves in new territory in order to navigate home?  Why return home at all?  Perhaps the answer lies with the construct of the study.  Large, adult male crocodiles probably expend a lot of energy defending home territories for their own survival and for mating purposes.  If you’ve fought for something most of your life, you probably wouldn’t give it up easily either.

I find it very interesting that even a crocodile seems to understand a vague sense of place in his environment.  A sense of home. 

You can read the full article online: Satellite Tracking Reveals Long Distance Coastal Travel and Homing by Translocated Estuarine Crocodiles