23 Apr 2013

Frenchman escapes jaws of saltwater crocodile

2:22 pm on 23 April 2013

A Frenchman attacked by a 2.5-metre-long saltwater crocodile in the Top End in the Northern Territory managed to fight his way free after it grabbed him by the head.

Yoann Galeran, 29, was swimming to a dinghy about 15 metres from shore on Sunday night when the saltwater crocodile attacked.

He told the ABC he has a "few holes on the head" and some stitches. But he is otherwise fine.

"I just feel that I've been lucky and I just think (if it was) a bigger crocodile, I maybe wouldn't have any head," he said.

Mr Galeran was with friends at a yacht club in Nhulunbuy when he agreed to swim out to a dinghy moored about 20 metres offshore.

"I was swimming, and maybe four or five metres from the boat, I just feel like rocks hitting on my head and something strong and I just realise (it was) a croc," Mr Galeran said.

"I just had the feeling that if I want to fight for my life, I just need to move all my body as much as I can.

''He just hit me on the top, on the left side, and on top of my neck and tried to push me down in the water."

Mr Galeran said he hit out at the crocodile and managed to escape.

"I punched him anywhere," he said.

Mr Galeran's boss, Lisa Heathcote, said the crocodile had been lurking in the area for the past few weeks.

"It's got him by the head and rolled him and his instincts kicked in and he's just started to punch into it. It released him but then it came back again," Ms Heathcote said.

"We've walked out on the back deck and Jo's standing there with a big grin on his face and blood pouring out of him."

Mr Galeran had wounds to his back, neck and head.

Watch Commander Vicki Koum said he was treated for the puncture wounds, but was not seriously injured.

"He's very, very lucky that he managed to swim away - (the outcome) could have been a lot more dire," she said.

"It's just a reminder that we live in the Territory, and where there is water, we have crocodiles."