Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – When Jeffrey Heim woke up on May 30, 2021, he had one thing on his mind, sharks and their teeth, that’s why his passion and work revolves.
On a hot and sunny day in Sarasota County, Florida, the 25-year-old went to the Miaka River, about 45 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.
Heim visited the place several times and was comfortable with the idea of diving into murky waters to find the teeth of the extinct Megalodon sharks at the bottom of the river.
Heim put on his diving suit, mask and fins, snorkeled and plunged into the water not far from a restaurant along the river on the beach.
Less than a minute after diving, Heim felt something bad. “I have not heard or seen anything,” he said. “I felt a strong body, like someone waving a baseball bat, hit my head. But what I probably felt I thought was a big boat hitting me, pulling me down.”
But he did not hit a boat, he was face to face with a crocodile.
Crocodile attacks: rare but interesting
Heim was in a situation that few people really experience, even though many fear him.
There are about 5 million U.S. alligators in 10 southeastern states, and outside the region, including parts of North Carolina, and as far as the southeastern tip of Oklahoma.
Some of these crocodiles inhabit places where many people live, or vacation areas such as lakes and rivers in Florida and the coast of South Carolina.
However, crocodile attacks are not uncommon, and deaths as a result are much rarer, while fatal attacks by dogs, horses and other mammals are more common.
And it turns out that under natural conditions, crocodiles are not interested in humans, says Kimberly Andrews, a crocodile and snake expert with a PhD in ecology from the University of Georgia Marine Extension and a Georgia C award, who co-founded his own Coastal Ecology management. Laboratory.
“We are not prey,” Andrews explained. “And when you think about it, they rarely attack us. We have arms, we have legs, we can stand up straight, walk, swim.”
“Unless she is confronted, she will remain in her area,” Andrews added.
Andrews wants to dispel the idea that crocodiles are aggressive creatures, as these large reptiles will be tiring for them to be active.
However, be careful when you are in an area with crocodiles, whether it is on golf courses, swamps, lakes, rivers, hiking and biking trails and fishing spots along the waterways.
Best line of defense: Avoid crocodile attacks
Andrews believes that awareness is the key to avoiding a bad encounter with crocodiles, and one can recognize when these creatures are most active.
The mating season begins with the high temperature in spring, and lasts until early summer.
In the Okefenokee swamp in southeastern Georgia, Andrews said, “we start seeing eggs hatch in September and October … and that’s when the females are most aggressive when they feel someone is threatening their young.”
Winter is best because crocodiles do not make much effort when the weather is cold.
Crocodiles can feel uncomfortable or confused when people try to grab them by the tails, or approach them to take pictures.
Worse, humans try to feed them, as these reptiles then associate the ideas of humans with food.
Heim realized he was in a dangerous situation, and the crocodile had already bitten him in the head and hand, and approached him again.
The crocodile removed Heim’s mask, and pulled his head down to his stomach. “I went upstairs with my head above the water. I no longer had the mask with the GoPro being filmed. Our eyes met, and we stayed that way for two or three seconds,” Heim said. .
The crocodile rushed at him again, and Heim made sure to pull back, but attacked him fiercely again.
What to do if you are attacked?
Andrews recommends “trying to poke the crocodile in the eye, and hitting it on top of the skull or the side of the jaw.”
When attacked in water, the risk of drowning is greater than that of a crocodile biting someone, so try to go ashore if possible.
But do not assume you are safe on land Crocodiles have more in their arsenal than just their scary teeth, because they can get hurt if they hit you with their tail.
Other ways to block the attack
Here are some survival tips from wildlife experts:
- If you can escape to land, run in a straight line, not zigzag
- Try to cause a gag reflex by placing anything you can reach in the back of the crocodile’s mouth
- Sometimes the crocodile changes the position of its prey in its mouth. And you’ll have a chance to escape when you unlock it to unlock it again
- The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources notes that alligators “bite, twist and turn with their strong jaws. If a crocodile bites your arm, it can be helpful to grab the crocodile and wrap it around the tear of the arm to reduce. “
- Get medical help immediately if you are bitten. Crocodile bites often lead to serious infections
One of Andrews’ survival tips came in handy when the crocodile struck Heim again, on its way to land, and struck in the parking lot.
Heim almost died, but managed to scream and warn some people of the restaurant.
Fortunately, people heard his screams and were able to help him with the restaurant’s first aid kit and call the ambulance service.
Like other young men who spent their time in the prairie areas, Heim was overwhelmed with a false sense of security because he encountered crocodiles without anything bad happening.
“I think what was different this time was that it happened near a restaurant, where the crocodiles that are fed are the most aggressive,” Heim said.