Sweetheart (crocodile)

Sweetheart was the name given to a 5.1 m (17 ft) male saltwater crocodile which Northern Territory folk legend claims was responsible for a series of attacks on boats in Australia in the 1970s.

Sweetheart at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

History edit

Sweetheart first rose to prominence around 1974 and was dubbed by locals as the "heavyweight champion" of Sweets Billabong - where he gets his name - in the Northern Territory's Finniss River, south west of Darwin.[1] He frequently attacked outboard motors, dinghies, and fishing boats, but there is no known case of his attacking humans.[2] In July, 1979 Sweetheart was finally caught alive by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission due to fears for human safety, but died while being transported when he became tangled with a log.[3] The cause of death was later attributed to drowning, probably due to the administration of the muscle relaxant Flaxedil.[4]

The crocodile's mounted body was prepared for an Australian tour by Ian Archibald[4] and eventually placed on permanent display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.[5] The story of Sweetheart was interpreted with considerable artistic licence by filmmaker Greg McLean in his 2007 creature feature Rogue, starring Michael Vartan, Sam Worthington and Radha Mitchell.[6] Sweetheart's dimensions were expanded by two metres in the film, which saw Academy Award-winning creature designer John Cox[7] win an AFI Award for his construction of the crocodile used on screen.[8]

References edit

  1. ^ "'Sweetheart' - The Northern Territory's iconic croc". www.9news.com.au. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  2. ^ "Sweetheart the crocodile celebrates 40 years of being captured". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 July 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  3. ^ Stringer, Col (1986). The Saga of Sweetheart: The frightening but true story of the Giant Rogue Crocodile who attacked over 15 boats on a N.T. River during the 1970s. Casuarina, N.T.: Adventure Publications. ISBN 0959089632.
  4. ^ a b Terzon, Emilia (4 August 2016). "How Darwin's iconic five-metre croc Sweetheart got stuffed". ABC News.
  5. ^ "Sweetheart, Museum Icon". Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  6. ^ Turney, Drew (13 July 2007). "Greg McLean for "Rogue"". Dark Horizons. Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Babe" winning the Oscar® for Visual Effects, retrieved 5 January 2023
  8. ^ Mitchell, Jim (10 November 2017). "Dark Waters: The Making Of Rogue". FilmInk. Retrieved 5 January 2023.