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'Go time': The croc encounter that left a veteran tour guide stunned



Hovering his phone over the Adelaide River in the remote Northern Territory Damian Duffy captured a sight he says "would be the last thing you would see" in the wild.

A 3.8-metre saltwater crocodile was positioned perfectly vertical in the swirling muddy torrent, readying itself to jump.

The encounter with the "saltie" happened a couple years ago now but it is a moment that has stuck with the self-described "Wildman" ever since.

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"It popped its head up and had a look," Duffy told

"What you can't see is the tail angled on a backwards angle underneath the moving water.

"You see it towards the end of the video there, the croc has its head up and it positions itself straight up, and that just means 'go time'."

"Luckily I was positioned where the crocodile couldn't actually get me; it just looks a lot more dangerous than it was."

Duffy has worked with crocodiles 'on and off' for about a decade.

Duffy, who was working on crocodile jumping tours when the video was captured, has a decade of experience with the animals.

The wildlife enthusiast is now based in South Australia, taking a quick sabbatical, but plans to return to Darwin mid-year to resume some tours.

He recounted his most "uncomfortable" experience with the wild reptiles. 

'Colossally huge': Wildman's most memorable encounter 

"A couple years ago now", back in the Northern Territory, Duffy caught wind dozens of crocodiles had been seen feasting on a dead buffalo.

On a shabby old boat, he slogged his way down the winding waterway.

"It was a three-man punt, so about three metres long," he said.

"I had found the remains, there were about 15 crocodiles hanging around so I decided to drop anchor."

That's when the wind started to pick up.

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Duffy said crocodiles are at the pinnacle of predatory evolution.

"I wound up abandoning the photography mission as it was too difficult to keep the boat out of harm's way," he said.

"I pulled in the anchor and went about 15 metres up river.

"I'm idling the boat, keeping it against the wind.

"I just got goosebumps, the spider senses were tingling, and I was looking around."

Then he saw the reason his body pushed him to fight or flight mode.

"I looked to my right, about 10 metres away, up popped this big bull crocodile.," Duffy said.

"It was like a five-metre crocodile, colossally huge. It was up there with the biggest I had ever seen.

"Then he did something – 'get out of my personal bubble' behaviour – he took a big deep breath, swirled himself right up high, puffed his back right out high of the water.

"The size of this animal compared to the three-metre boat that was in, I was like, 'Time to get out of Dodge. I'm not the top of the food chain here.'

"I turned the boat and started fanging back but the wind was gusting so hard it was lifting the front of the boat and turning it sideways.

"For the next 45 minutes, my bum was twitching like a rabbit's nose."

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While the animals are remarkable to behold, Duffy urges people to keep a very safe distance.Duffy's fascination with crocodiles began young.

Even though Australia is packed to the brim with diverse critters and creepy crawlies, Duffy said crocodiles have a unique hold over him.

"You have all this wonderful wildlife in Australia, but crocodiles there's just something about them," he said.

"For years I tried to figure out what it was.

"As a young fella, I was always fascinated with dinosaurs, and they're one of the last remaining dinosaur-like creatures we have on this planet.

"They are the pinnacle of predatory evolution. There's something so captivating about that.

"I can't stay away from them for too long."

Crocodiles should be respected - and appreciated from a very safe distance,' he says.

With that said, he urges members of the public to keep a safe distance from any species of wild crocodile.

"Respect them. You can appreciate them but at a distance. They are a very unforgiving animal," he said.

"I'm a professional, I suppose, in regards to crocodiles and they surprise even me.

"They are unpredictable in a sense they are fast and powerful."

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