Most of us know Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, as a gregarious TV show star. And those of us who had kids who watched him and learned about reptiles from his show know the value of his enthusiastic teaching.

But did you know the Irwin was involved in scientific research? 

Croc hunter Steve Irwin’s last scientific paper has been published…Title:
Satellite Tracking Reveals Long Distance Coastal Travel and Homing by Translocated Estuarine Crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus

Quite a mouthful. And of course he was only one of several scientists who coauthored the paper. (Mark A. Read1, Gordon C. Grigg2, Steve R. Irwin3, Danielle Shanahan2, Craig E. Franklin).

Essentially the investigation was to see how far crocodiles would travel. They placed GPS tracking devices on the crocs that were captured, and watched the data to see how far they traveled…and travel they did, some at 10 to 30 km a day, all the way back to the place where they were captured.

This data shows several things: One, that crocs like birds are able to navigate long distances.

But the second important discovery is that this means crocs taken from sites and later released in the wild might just hightail it back to their original area.

Usually “problem” crocodiles are caught and placed in zoos or reptile farms, but scientists were hoping a program to simply catch and relocate the reptiles would be a more humane practice.

Alas for the crocs, this research suggests relocation won’t work.

Irwin’s foundation helped fund the research, and he provided technical input into the study.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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