Croc bite was like ‘a jolt of electricity’
MICK Curwen's mates are calling him Mick Dundee but the Tewantin man won't soon forget the moment he realised he'd been attacked by a large crocodile.
And he admits the near-death experience has left him rattled.
That's not surprising, given the 57-year-old came face-to-face with a rogue 2.5 metre saltwater croc and lived to tell the tale.
The former manager of the Royal Mail Hotel at Tewantin was working on Lizard Island when he joined a night snorkelling expedition dive to view coral spawning last Wednesday.
He was the last into the water and had only gone 10 metres from the beach when the croc attacked.
"I'd just put the flippers on, put my head under the water and done about five kicks when he hit me - whack!" Mick recounted.
"He got me on the elbow and it was like having a massive jolt of electricity go through me.
"I remember turning around underwater and in the light of my torch I could see the barrel (body) of this croc and I thought 'this doesn't look good'.
"He was so close I could see his belly and the rows of scales."
Mick scrambled back to the beach in the dark, desperately trying to put distance between himself and the reptile.
"I knew I was leaking but I didn't know how much damage he'd done or where he was," he said.
"Once I got to the shallows I thought 'I've made it this far, maybe I've got a chance'.
"I just wanted to get the flippers off but the hardest thing was standing there in the water, in the dark, not knowing where he was."
With blood pouring from deep puncture wounds on his arm, he ran 50 metres to a resort bar to raise the alarm.
After receiving first aid, he was flown to Cairns Hospital the following day.
His wife of 40 years, Anita, flew to Cairns and after three days in hospital, Mick was able to fly home to the Sunshine Coast.
Yesterday, he returned to the Royal Mail Hotel to catch up with friends and recount his terrifying experience.
While the jokes about Mick Dundee were coming thick and fast, he admitted he was haunted by the attack.
"It's still sinking in right now, the fact that I turned around and could see this croc just a metre away from me," he said. "I keep seeing it in my head and they've told me I have to be careful about delayed shock.
"I was very, very lucky."
Mick has no regrets the crocodile was captured by rangers and euthanaised.
"They said it was a seriously dangerous croc - very angry and very aggressive.
"They're very territorial and I would hate to think it attacked someone else."
What a croc!
AT 2.5 metres long, the crocodile which attacked Mick Curwen was as long as many small cars.
While it's hard to guess at its weight, the average adult "saltie" is four-metres long and weighs of 450kg.
It has between 64 and 68 razor sharp teeth and can bring down prey equal to or more than their own body weight.
A study by palaeobiologist Gregory Erikson found saltwater crocodiles could slam their jaws shut with 3700psi (pounds per square inch).
By contrast, a human might tear into a steak with 150-200psi and hyenas, lions and tigers generate around 1000psi.
A 2008 computer model estimated that a 6.5 meter great white shark would produce nearly 4000psi of bite force, although that figure has not been directly measured.