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Boatie survives when croc leaps aboard

An Australian mine worker told last night how a 4m saltwater crocodile jumped into his boat and bit him on the head. Geoff Bolitho, 36, escaped with only grazes and puncture wounds to the top of his head and left arm.

"I have got a story to tell now – I am just lucky I can tell it," Mr Bolitho said. "I think I was a very lucky fella – I don't think I will be camping out for a while."

Mr Bolitho, who lives at Jabiru, about 180km east of Darwin, said he had been fishing on the East Alligator River when the croc attacked about 8pm on Tuesday. He and two mates had anchored near the junction with Magela Creek and were preparing to sleep.

"We had just finished dinner," the father of three said. "I was sitting back in a chair – and it was just a 'bang' out of the blue over my left shoulder. It came up over the side of the boat. It was just a blur – one big commotion. I said, 'that bloody crocodile has just bitten me'."

He said the large boat – more than 5m long and 2m wide – had saved his life.

"I could understand if you were cleaning fish in the water or hanging over the side of the boat, but we were sitting back in there minding our own business. It would have made a mess if we were in a dinghy – or maybe knocked everyone out."

Mr Bolitho said they spotlighted the saltie lurking about 20m from the boat after the attack then packed up and left.

"There wasn't a lot of blood – it was just the shock," he said.

A hunting party of five – including traditional owners and park rangers – located the croc about midnight on Wednesday They harpooned and shot it. Kakadu operations manager north Marcus Sandford described the crocodile's behaviour as "fairly atypical".

"We haven't observed crocodiles lunging against the side of boats," Mr Sandford said.
 
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