Plenty of folks in the southeastern United States have had what we can, at the very least, consider "close calls" with alligators. They're a regular presence in and around local waterways, and the prehistoric-looking beasts will eat just about anything, if they're in the mood.
One thing we don't really have to deal with around these parts, though (and thankfully so) is the saltwater crocodile. They're bigger, meaner and more territorial—and, as their name suggests, they can thrive in saltwater. These guys can come and get you while you relax on the beach, should they feel so inspired.
Last week a French fisherman that was visiting Australia had his own face-to-face with a saltwater croc, and only narrowly survived—thanks in part to what must have been one heck of a punch.
According to the Daily Mail, 29-year-old Yoanna Galeran had been planning on swimming to a dinghy anchored about 20 yards offshore when he dove into the water off of the Arnhem Land Region of Australia's Northern Territory. Given that it was the middle of the night, and that Australia's also famous for another large, seafaring predator, I'm not sure if I should be impressed at this guy's boldness or questioning his intelligence.
That said, not long after Galeran entered the water, he felt something large hit him on his left side, around his upper body and neck. It was a croc—later estimated to be between 8 to 10 feet—that had designs on making the Frenchman its dinner. Galeran's head briefly entered the behemoth's mouth, and then survival instinct kicked in. As the croc tried to start its "death roll," the fisherman lashed out with everything he had, repeatedly striking the crocodile in its head as hard as he could, given the circumstances. Galeran told the Daily Mail that it was a strike to the croc's lower jaw that seemed to free him, and then he began a mad scramble for the dinghy. He reached it safely, sporting a handful of new puncture wounds on the back of his neck and the top of his head.
Friends that were nearby (Seriously, guys? Friends don't let friends swim in crocodile-infested waters) immediately got him medical assistance and, all told, he should be fine. In all likelihood his panicked assault on the crocodile convinced it to seek a less tiresome meal.
Officials said that the animal had been lurking around the area for a few weeks, and that Galeran was immensely lucky to survive. A larger croc could have taken his head off before he had time to react—male saltwater crocodiles can reach 16 to 17 feet in length when they're mature.
Fortunately for Galeran, he ran into one that was small enough to give him a puncher's chance. I'm confident that he won't be aimlessly diving into waterways anytime soon.