Crocodile Victim Sean Cole's Body Recovered

The body of a man who was snatched by a large crocodile in the north of Australia has now been recovered.

IT worker Sean Cole, 26, was taken on Saturday in front of at least 15 onlookers as he swam with a friend across a muddy river that has one of the highest densities of saltwater crocodiles in the world.

He had been celebrating his friend’s 30th birthday at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat when the pair decided to take a swim in the croc-infested water, about 68 miles (110km) from the city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Northern Territory Police senior constable Wade Rodgers said his body was found early on Monday in the area where he was last seen.

"Our thoughts are with the family during this very difficult time," he said.

Mr Cole’s friend survived.

Witnesses had recounted seeing the animal, believed to be nearly five metres (16 feet) long, swimming upriver with his body in its jaws.

The Northern Territory News said a survey three weeks ago recorded four crocodiles over four metres in the area and 10 to 12 measuring more than three metres.

Parks and Wildlife Ranger Tom Nichols said four crocodiles had been shot, including the one believed to be responsible for the attack.

"Any animals that were in that range which we believed to be a possible target in the area where the accident took place, we usually take them out for simple reasons," he said.

"We do autopsies on those and it's also closure for the families if there's anything there."

The pair had gone swimming despite notices and verbal warnings from staff at the retreat about the dangers of crocodiles in the area.

Friend Glen Spearing, from the University Rats Football Club, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation it was out of character for Mr Cole to go swimming in a river known for crocodiles.

"I think myself along with everyone else, when we found out we honestly didn't believe that it would have been Sean, we would have expected it to be almost anyone else in the club but Sean," he said.

"[It] just seemed extremely out of character for him."

Frida Pettersson, who was camping close to where the attack happened, also told the ABC that the frightening incident will hopefully put off others from venturing into the water locally.

"It was my first time there - obviously I'm never going to forget it, and for my children," she said.

"It's just another wake-up call about water safety and to be aware of the water."

Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven metres long and weigh more than a tonne, are a common feature of Australia's tropical north.

They have been protected since the 1970s and their numbers have increased steadily since, along with the number of human encounters.

Last December, a nine-year-old boy was taken by a four-metre crocodile while swimming in the Northern Territory.

Adults tried to save the boy but the crocodile dragged the youngster out to deeper water.

In November 2012 a girl, 7, was taken by a saltwater crocodile at Gumarrirngbang outstation, near Maningrida.

Three other people, including two children, have been killed by crocodiles since 2009.