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Australian Guide Baits 18 Foot Crocodile For River Tourists

ADELAIDE RIVER, Australia ~ (Field & Stream/NT News) ~ A jaw-dropping photo of a massive 18-foot, 3 legged crocodile with its snout in the air next to a river boat is apparently real, but has raised questions about tour guide behavior.

The salt-water crocodile is named Brutus; he's believed to be around 80 years old and is one of the dominant male crocs in the Adelaide River. His missing leg is thought to have been taken by a shark. The remarkable picture was taken by Northern Territory News staffer Katrina Bridgeford and first appeared on the paper's front page with the title "Yes, It's Real". Despite the claim, there has been some speculation that the image was electronically doctored, but the newspaper insists the photograph is genuine.

The controversial photo has raised concerns from many about safety and increased a worrying trend among some tour boat operators, who want to give their passengers a closer experience with nature. Tony Blums, tour operator and owner of Jumping Crocodile Cruises, said the leaping crocodile stunt was done in a way that was irresponsible and risked lives. "What they are doing is quite dangerous," Blums said, "the croc is far too big for the size of the boat they were approaching it with. It is very disturbing. A croc that size can fully flick itself up onto the boat from there, and that would cause some panic." He said it would've been safer if the guide had used a longer pole to keep the creature further away from the boat. "You don't play with big crocs. They are big, strong and dangerous," Blums added, "if they get it wrong, it will go wrong terribly." The company which arranged the tour, Adelaide River Cruises defended its safety record, and said they are focused on providing a unique experience for their guests.

Photo credit: Katrina Bridgeford/Northern Territory News

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