A TEENAGER fought off a crocodile by punching it in the head after he was dared to jump into a Queensland river infested with the killer reptiles.
Lee De Paauw, 18, is lucky to be alive after the animal latched onto his left arm during a late-night swim in far-north Queensland's Johnstone River.
He escaped the crocodile's jaws by punching it with his right arm, The Cairns Post reported.
The teen jumped from a wharf into the river as a dare while "revelling with friends" at Innisfail early Sunday morning, Queensland Ambulance Service Cairns spokesman Neil Noble told reporters.
"It's very fortunate that he survived this incident and was able to be rescued," he said.
"Circumstances that led up to this attack are quite sketchy but reports from the scene are that he was dared to jump into the water, which he did, and unfortunately that area is well known for its crocodile population and we're just very grateful that he survived this incident because it could have turned out to be quite fatal."
A witness, British backpacker Sophie Paterson, told The Courier-Mail that Mr De Paauw was bragging about how he wasn't afraid to swim in the croc-infested waters - so the group dared him to do it.
"It all happened very fast, pretty much as soon as he jumped in, there was splashing and screaming," the 24-year-old said.
"There was blood everywhere and he just wouldn't stop screaming.''
Friends helped pull him from the water. The group was reportedly drinking at the time of the attack.
The victim was taken to Innisfail District Hospital where he was stabilised, before being taken to Cairns Hospital for surgery.
Mr Noble said initial reports that Mr De Paauw's arm was amputated were untrue.
"(His arm) has been really badly injured and hopefully surgeons can help him and restore the use of his arm," Mr Noble said.
Mr De Paauw's Facebook page suggests he has a fascination with crocs.
He shared a 9 News report of a crocodile attack on a pig hunting dog in 2013, and also posted a picture of a massive croc by a river with the caption "Not fishing there".
Brenton Gangemi, owner of Queensland wildlife cruises Snapping Tours, said he believed the culprit croc was a three-and-a-half to four metre male saltwater crocodile that had been frequenting the area recently.
Mr Gangemi said the man could also have been attacked by a bull shark, as they were common in the river.
Saltwater crocodiles are one of Australia's most dangerous land animals and have been responsible for eight confirmed fatal attacks in Queensland since 1985.
New Zealand-born photographer Cindy Waldron died in May 2016 after she was dragged under water by a 4.3m saltwater crocodile while walking with a friend at Thornton Beach, north of Cairns.
Crocodiles kill an average of two people each year in Australia.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.