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Fake Croc Prank Confuses English Paper About Dangers Of Aussie Beach

Crocodile

First Posted: 10/19/11 02:28 PM ET Updated: 12/19/11 05:12 AM ET

The world's most dangerous beach isn't so dangerous after all.

Queensland natives were a little puzzled when The Telegraph newspaper recently listed Fraser Island's beaches as among the most dangerous on Earth due to an apparent Saltwater Crocodile problem. While crocodiles could make it to Fraser, there is little evidence to support the idea that they do or have. Tourism officials were left scratching their heads until they remembered a prank from back in 2006.

In 2006, the Fraser Coast Chronicle wrote an article about the beast on the beach under a headline set in gigantic font: "Croc spotted on Fraser." The croc photographed by a group of Korean tourists was fake, basically a lawn ornament. The picture of the baby sitting on its nose probably should have given that one away.

To quell fears, Australia's Environmental Protection Agency released a statement at the time saying it had "confirmed that the crocodile photographed by Korean tourists on Fraser Island on Friday is a fake. Queensland Parks and Wildlife rangers spotted a fisherman on the island with the fake crocodile...and took photographs of it."

Australian Tourism Minister Jan Jarret made the connection between the old prank and The Telegraph article and told News.com.au that "If we're going to be concerned about the crocodile story on Fraser Island we might also want to look out for the drop bears.'' (Drop Bears are an invented animal Australians like to scare tourists with. Sort of a down under jackalope.)

Jarrett went on to describe the prank as a bit of "Queensland humor" and the article as "bollocks."

Among the other terrors of Fraser Island, a beautiful sliver of sand and forest on Australia's eastern seaboard, cited by the story were rip currents, sharks and dingoes, which "are known to occasionally attack humans." Though these threats are real, Dingoes, which are quite small, rarely attack humans. The myth of the dangerous Dingo was birthed by the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain in 1980 when her parents claimed she was taken by a wild dog. The phrase, "A Dingo ate my baby," was further embedded in Western imagination by a Seinfeld joke and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", which showcased a band of that name.

The moral of the story: Go to Fraser Island but look out for Drop Bears.

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Filed by Andrew Burmon  |