Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Last paper by Steve Irwin!

Just published about an hour ago (if it was in hardcopy, it would still be hot off the presses). And it is a wonderful paper! Australian crocs can and will travel much longer distances than was previously thought and their homing instinct is strong and navigational capacity excellent, even in a case where a large obstacle (Cape York Peninsula) needed to be navigated around:

Satellite Tracking Reveals Long Distance Coastal Travel and Homing by Translocated Estuarine Crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus:

Crocodiles are widely distributed and can usually be found in remote areas, however very little is known about their movements on a larger scale. In this study, Read and colleagues (including the late Steve Irwin) use satellite tracking to report the movements of three large male crocodiles, which were relocated up to 411km from their capture sites in Northern Australia. The results show that each crocodile returned to its original capture site within days, indicating that homing abilities are present amongst crocodiles.


Can you imagine anyone doing this work without Steve Irwin? Who else would be able to grab a big croc, attach a satellite tracker, load it and unload it some hundreds of miles away, then follow their movements on the computer screen? Would you dare ask your grad students to do that?

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