Thrill-seekers snap up new Aussie dare - croc swim

Fri Nov 7, 2008 9:28am EST
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By Cecile Lefort

DARWIN (Reuters Life!) - Swimming face-to-face with a massive saltwater crocodile might not be everyone's idea of fun but thrill-seekers are snapping up northern Australia's new tourist attraction.

Tourists who want to get cozy with a crocodile climb into a clear acrylic cage, dubbed "the cage of death," which is about 145 mm (5.7 inches) thick and 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) high, wearing just a pair of swimming goggles and a swimsuit.

The cage has no bars, unlike cages used in shark dives, which prevents the reptiles from gripping on but deep teeth scratches are visible on the sides, deterring some hesitant participants.

The cage is then slid along runners over four crocodile pens, carrying a maximum of two divers at a time, and partly immersed in the water so swimmers can see the crocodiles under the water but also come up to the surface for air.

The attraction, located at Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of the northern city of Darwin in the Northern Territory, was given high marks by adrenaline-junkies.

"This is it!" said self-confessed thrill-seeker Mark Clayton from Darwin after spending 20 minutes in with the crocodiles.

"I dive with sharks, large rays, moray eels ... but it's not this close. It's exhilarating to get that close to a crocodile of that size."

Saltwater crocodiles, known locally as "salties," are the largest crocodile species, with the males growing up to 6 meters (18 feet) long and weighing up to 1,000 kgs (2,200 lbs).   Continued...

<p>A thrill-seeker tourist dives in a cage partially immersed in a crocodile pen in Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Wade Huffman</p>