'Eyes coming straight for me': Huge crocodile launches itself into boat with jaws wide open in strange attack

A crocodile in Queensland is pictured with its jaws wide open. (Image credit: Galen Rowell via Getty Images)

A fisher experienced the shock of a lifetime when a large crocodile launched itself onto his boat with its jaws wide open in Australia.

The incident occurred at Jane Creek — a stream northeast of Mackay in Queensland — on the morning of Dec. 31, 2023. The man was identified by ABC News as 45-year-old Richard Brookman, a local who has fished at this creek for decades. He had been on the water for around four hours when, at 10 a.m. local time, he spotted a crocodile swimming toward his small aluminum boat, or tinnie. 

Brookman told ABC he had an "eerie feeling" of being watched: "I turned the headlight on and had to look up the creek and there's these eyes coming straight for me," he said. Brookman estimated the crocodile was around 13 feet (4 meters) long, while his boat was 10 feet (3 m) long, according to ABC. 

The fisher moved to the back of the tinnie to start the engine, but the crocodile suddenly leapt into the air and crashed onto the boat.

"The crocodile [swam] under the tinnie, then turned and launched itself up and into the vessel with its jaws wide open," Jane Burns, a senior wildlife officer with the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI), said in a statement. "The man then jumped the crocodile to get to the bow of the tinnie and retrieve the anchor, and the crocodile pivoted, over-balanced and fell back into the water, bending the rails of the tinnie."

Related: Watch rare footage of huge crocodile eating baby hippo with umbilical cord still attached

The crocodile was only in the tinnie for a few moments, and the fisher returned safely to shore, according to the statement. "This would have been a frightening incident," Burns said.

Speaking to wildlife officers on Monday (Jan. 1), the fisher said he had never seen such a large crocodile behaving this way in the region before. Burns also told ABC this was an unusual incident. "To launch themselves at a boat near a boat or at a person, it's not what we would call typical [crocodile] behavior," she said. "It is concerning behavior, so it is definitely getting investigated and we'll look further into this animal's behavior."

A crocodile springs from the waters of the Adelaide River, in Australia's North Territory. (Image credit: Artie Photography (Artie Ng) via Getty Images)

She added that crocodiles jumping onto boats is normally accidental and often occurs when they are trying to get back into the water. 

The DESI said in the statement it will conduct daytime surveys to find the crocodile and install warning signs until the animal is located. "Should we not confirm the presence of a crocodile during our daytime search, we will conduct a nighttime spotlight assessment in Jane Creek," Burns said. "If a crocodile is in the vicinity, we will assess its behavior and the risks posed to public safety."

If wildlife officers locate the croc and believe it poses a threat, they will remove the animal from the wild, Burns added. Brookman told ABC News he would like to see the crocodile relocated.

Crocodile attacks in Queensland are rare, although officials warn there is a risk in waterways where they are present. Between December 1985 and July 2023, there were 47 reported attacks in the state, 13 of which were fatal.

In June 2023, a man narrowly escaped from the jaws of a saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that attacked him from behind while he was snorkeling off the coast of Queensland. 

Sascha Pare
Trainee staff writer

Sascha is a U.K.-based trainee staff writer at Live Science. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Southampton in England and a master’s degree in science communication from Imperial College London. Her work has appeared in The Guardian and the health website Zoe. Besides writing, she enjoys playing tennis, bread-making and browsing second-hand shops for hidden gems.