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Real Life

Real life: I was attacked by a croc!

No one believed what happened until I showed them the blood.

By As told to Take 5

Mick Curwen, 60, Noosa, Qld, shares his terrifying real life story;

The full moon was shining brightly over the ocean as I dipped my toe into the cool water.
No doubt about it, this is paradise, I thought.
Sadly, my work trip to Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef was coming to an end.
I was up here helping with the refurbishment of a resort.
My team and I had been on the remote island for over a month and had just been told we could go home soon.
But by a stroke of luck, three nights earlier the full moon had triggered a rare event off the coast called coral spawning.
Once a year the coral on the reef all release eggs and spawn into the water simultaneously, hoping they'll join up and create baby colonies of coral.
My workmates and I all agreed it could be magical to see up close, so we decided to venture out together.
I got a bit side-tracked and it was early evening by the time I got to the beach. My mates were already out on the reef.
Normally I wouldn't go into the water so late, but it was a special night and locals had reassured me we'd be okay.
Swimming over the reef - what could go wrong? (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I'd thrown on my swimming shorts and a rashie to protect myself from any marine stingers.
I put my gear down on the sand and prepared to wade into the water.
I'm about to dive in, talk to you later, I texted to my wife of 43 years Anita, 58.
I love you, stay safe! she messaged back.
With that, I dropped my phone in with my pile of possessions and headed in.
"Hey, wait up!" I shouted to my co-workers as I wriggled my flippers onto my feet.
The coral reef was about 15 metres off the beach so I would have to swim a little way before I reached it.
I put my head down and took my first breath through the snorkel.
It was dark below me but I had a torch and the light from the moon to guide me.
All of a sudden, I felt a jolt go through my body as something slammed into my left arm.
"Argh!" I screamed out in pain.
I thought I'd been hit by a boat or something.
With my family - I'm a lucky man. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I whizzed around to see what had done it.
As I turned behind me and shone my torch, I saw the yellow underbelly of a 2.5m saltwater crocodile and its menacing teeth that had latched onto my elbow.
I'd shone my torch right into the enormous beast's beady eyes.
Crikey, I thought, I'd better get out of here. If I didn't, I'd be a dead man.
With adrenaline pumping through my veins, I surged back to the shore faster than I'd ever swum before. I was trying to stay calm as well as keep an eye on what was behind me.
But it didn't seem that I was being followed.
Still, I was too scared to take my eyes off the water so once I hit the sand, I went backwards up the shore.
Once I kicked my flippers off, I picked up my gear and sprinted back up to the resort's bar 50 metres up the beach.
"You haven't been out long," a barman said to me.
"I've just been bitten by a croc," I panted as I caught my breath.
They laughed. "Bulls**t," replied one worker.
"I'm bloody serious," I insisted. I didn't feel much pain but the blood stains down the left side of me was sign enough that it wasn't good.
The bite wounds went deep. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
Pulling up the sleeve of my rashie, I showed the punters the gory wound.
I had four puncture wounds up my arm.
One had pierced through my bicep and three more were on my forearm.
One of the girls behind the bar rushed over and sat me down, cleaning and bandaging my injuries.
They took me up to the nurse's station, and she patched me up some more, and made calls to get me urgent help.
But it was night time and we were on an island. I'd have to stay put until sunrise.
What had just happened was starting to sink in and I thought I'd better ring Anita.
Trying to keep in high spirits, I made a joke when she answered the phone.
"Who is the last person you think would be eaten by a crocodile?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" she pressed.
She was terrified when I recalled my nightmare ordeal and promised to fly straight up to see me.
That night, I had to sleep on one side as the other was bandaged and still bleeding.
Next morning, I was flown to a hospital in Cairns where Anita was waiting.
In hospital - I was still in shock over what I'd experienced. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I needed surgery for the doctors to clean out the wound.
A crocodile's bite contains loads of bacteria and I could have got an infection, so they pumped me with antibiotics.
"You're lucky to be alive," the doctor told me. "Had the croc got his teeth into your bones, he would've performed a death roll and you might not be with us today."
I was stunned as I let that sink in. I truly felt like the luckiest bloke alive.
Four days later I was discharged and allowed to fly home.
Now when I tell the story, people say I was foolish to go out into the water at night.
But everyone on the island said the coral spawning was a must-see.
Plus, there'd only been two sightings of the croc in the past ten years.
Because I was the last person in the water and further away from the rest of the group, the croc decided to go for me.
This is as close as I ever want to get to a croc every again. (Image exclusive to Take 5)
I was the last wildebeest into the water, so to speak.
After the attack, the department of Environment and Heritage Protection caught the croc.
Ultimately he was deemed too much of a risk to humans and shot dead.
Steve Irwin was lying when he said that crocodiles are cute and cuddly.
When people ask me what my trick was to surviving, I tell them it was luck.
Every day I feel grateful to be alive after that incident and hope by sharing my story, others will be wiser when they enter the water in croc territory.

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