A low-flying Chinook helicopter sparked a massive crocodile mating frenzy at a farm in Australia, according to a report by the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Queensland.
John Lever, owner of Koorana Crocodile Farm, which has more than 3,000 crocodiles, told ABC News that pilots of the Chinook helicopters that fly in the area often veer off course from his farm. Lever said that the crocodiles started mating when the pilot flew at a low altitude.
“The large male crocodiles all reared up and roared into the sky, and as the helicopter flew away, the crocodiles were mating like crazy,” Lever said. “There seems to be something about the sound of a helicopter that excites the crocodiles.“
John Lever, the owner of the farm, said that the Chinook pilots use his farm as a marker point to change course mid-flight, and one pilot recently came especially low so the people on board could snap a few photos of the crocodiles.
After the helicopter flew away, Lever said that the male crocodiles “got up and roared and bellowed up at the sky, and then after the helicopters left they mated like mad.”
Herpetologists are still trying to understand why the low-flying helicopter triggered such a strong response from the crocodiles, but there are a few possible explanations.
One possibility is that the noise and vibrations of the helicopter may have simulated the warning signs of an incoming thunderstorm. Heavy rains are known to have an aphrodisiac effect on many species of crocodilians, including saltwater crocodiles.
Saltwater crocodiles appear to time mating so that their offspring do not drown in flood water after heavy rains and storms. By mating during thunderstorms, the crocodiles ensure that their young will hatch in more moderate conditions.
Another possibility is that the helicopter’s rotors were producing infrasound, sounds so low in frequency that they are undetectable to the human ear. Such vibrations can be picked up by crocodiles’ integumentary sensory organs (ISOs), which are used to detect changes in the water, atmospheric pressure, and sounds.
ISOs play an important role in crocodilian communication, and the sound of the Chinook’s rotors may have resembled the sound of competing male crocodiles. Crocodiles use infrasound to communicate with each other about their territory, dominance, and mating status.
It is also possible that the helicopter’s low-flying presence may have simply startled the crocodiles and triggered a defensive response. When crocodiles are startled, they may bellow, roar, and thrash their tails.
This behavior can also be interpreted as a sign of aggression or dominance, which may have attracted the attention of other crocodiles and led to a mating frenzy.
Whatever the reason for the crocodile mating frenzy, the incident provides a unique glimpse into the mating behavior of these fascinating creatures. It is also a reminder of the importance of respecting wildlife and their habitats.
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