Monday, June 09, 2008

Bad day

By ALI KOTARUMALOS, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jun 8, 2:14 PM ET
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Scuba divers swept away in strong currents survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters before scrambling onto a remote Indonesian island where they faced yet another threat: a Komodo dragon.

The divers — three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden — came face-to-face with the giant, carnivorous lizard on Rinca's palm-fringed beach, and fought it off by pelting it with rocks and pieces of wood, Pariman, a port official said Sunday.

"Luckily, they were able to chase it away," said Pariman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name.

The beasts have sharp, serrated teeth and often come out when they smell something new, including humans — whom they've been known to kill, Pariman said

The divers encountered treacherous currents after plunging from their wooden boat off Tatawa island on Thursday afternoon. They drifted 20 miles from their dive site before swimming to Rinca, their last chance to avoid being swept into the open ocean.

"We struggled against the current for several hours, but eventually stopped," Laurent Pinel, 31, of France, told The Sunday Times of London. The group tied their diving vests together to preserve energy, he said. Once on the island, they scraped mussels from the rocks for food, he said.
Komodo dragons, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh as much as 365 pounds, are only found in the wild on Rinca and Komodo island. There are believed to be 4,000 left in the world.

Thousands of tourists visit the area in eastern Indonesia each year to see the lizards in their natural habitat. They are normally shown around the arid and rocky island by guides who carry large, forked sticks to ward off the animals.
Komodo Dragons send chills up my spine. Their razor sharp teeth ooze with bacteria-filled saliva which infects a wound and sickens the victim. The saliva also carries some natural poisonous elements.  Update: They have poison glands inside their mouths, along their jawlines. The poison is an anticoagulant which lowers blood pressure until their victims go into shock. The Dragon will follow a victim's scent for a day or two - until the victim is sickened enough to lay down. The Dragon - and Dragon friends who have picked up the victim's wound scent - then move in and begin feeding while the victim is still alive. Komodo Dragons are very fast in short bursts. They are agile: they can easily climb trees, they can balance on hind legs and stretch their mouths up into bushes, et al. Komodo Dragons have no natural predators. To a Komodo Dragon: everything it sees is food - if only it can be bitten.

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