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January 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 45, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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“I Very Quickly Realized It Was a Crocodile”

from the January, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

You may remember the scary story of David Shem- Tov, an Undercurrent subscriber who was grabbed by a crocodile in Raja Ampat (read his story in our August 2009 issue). Australian marine biologist Melissa Marquez now has a similar tale. Doing a night dive while filming Cuba's Secret Shark Lair, a program for Discovery Channel's Shark Week in the Cuban archipelago Jardines de la Reina, she was set upon by a 10-foot-long American crocodile.

She reports how, a few seconds after her buddy started to ascend, "I felt this really hard pressure on my leg and suddenly I was being dragged backwards. I very quickly realized it was a crocodile."

A subconscious voice in her head told her not to struggle. "What I did that possibly saved my leg: stayed calm," Marquez says. "I tried not to move my leg as it dragged me so it wouldn't clamp down harder. Crocodiles have an insanely impressive bite force, and I'm tiny. It could easily break the bone or take my leg off."

Marquez didn't try to fight it off. Because she was wearing a neoprene wetsuit, she hoped that the receptors in the crocodile's mouth couldn't taste any blood and thus assume her leg probably wasn't food. Luckily, it didn't attempt a death roll that crocodiles are known for.

Soon the reptile let her go, and Marquez inflated her BC and shot to the surface. She suffered pretty deep puncture wounds and, far from any medical help, she cleaned them with bleach, water and a highpressure hose. That night she became feverish and dehydrated. She got some very strong antibiotics by IV drip which saved her leg from further infection and was eventually evacuated to a Miami hospital, where she says she became a favorite patient, "because everyone wanted to look at my croc bite."

That incident won't keep Marquez out of the water. "There is always a risk when you work with wild predators," she says. "There is always a risk to your life and we all accept it."

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