Beachgoers in northeastern Australia were startled by a gigantic bird that some have dubbed the “world’s most dangerous bird” when it climbed out of the sea and brushed itself off, as per a press release from the Queensland Government.
Known by its scientific name, cassowary, this enormous, non-flying bird resembles an ostrich or an emu in appearance and may reach heights comparable to those of humans.
Only one of the three remaining cassowary species worldwide, the southern cassowary, is located in Australia. The bird’s natural habitats are the tropical rainforests of northeast Queensland, several nearby islands, and Papua New Guinea, which is located across the water from those rainforests in Queensland.
Environmental officials in Queensland have described the distinctive features of the southern cassowary, which include glossy black plumage, a brown “helmet” atop the head, and a claw that is “dagger-shaped” and linked to the innermost toe on each foot.
With females measuring up to 165 pounds and males weighing up to 120, they are the biggest bird in Australia.
Australia’s Department of Environment and Science received a report about the sighting in Bingil Bay on October 31.
Nikita McDowell, who hosts the campsite at Bingil Bay, was first informed by a guest who saw the cassowary swimming around 200 metres (650 feet) offshore.
McDowell informed Queensland government representatives that she monitored the bird until it was ready to go on, as advised by nearby wildlife caretakers and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
“I went to make a coffee and when I returned, it was gone,” she said.
The Library of Congress states in its description of the “world’s most dangerous bird” that cassowaries are timid and often difficult to identify.
Despite their power, the birds are not extremely aggressive, and attacks are rare. However, the library points out that some of the birds’ previous attacks have been fatal and that they “can do a lot of damage” if provoked.
On the man’s property close to Gainesville, Florida, a cassowary killed its owner in 2019. According to police at the time, the bird reportedly attacked him when he fell in its area. They thought that 75-year-old Marvin Hajos, the owner, was raising cassowaries on his land.
Although they are unable to fly, cassowaries can swim well and have been seen to reach speeds of up to 31 mph when sprinting on land.
According to the government, the southern cassowary plays a significant role in maintaining rainforest ecosystems in Australia by dispersing rainforest tree seeds, some of which are too big for other animals to eat and distribute.
“The southern population of the southern cassowary is listed as endangered under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, and it is important that sick injured, or orphaned cassowaries are reported to QPWS,” said Stephen Clough, a wildlife officer, in a statement about the Bingil Bay sighting to the Queensland Government.
“We’re not sure how long this animal was in the water or why it went for a swim but the footage is astonishing,” he said.